‘Extraordinary action’ pledged by housing leaders to combat violence in the projects

By Joseph D. Bryant

Housing Authority of the Birmingham District

From left: Michael Lundy, president and CEO of the HABD, Cardell Davis, chair of the HABD board of commissioners and Morrell Todd, vice chair of the HABD board. (Frank Couch, file)
From left: Michael Lundy, president and CEO of the HABD, Cardell Davis, chair of the HABD board of commissioners and Morrell Todd, vice chair of the HABD board. (Frank Couch, file)

Residents and leaders of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District Monday stood in solidarity to denounce violence as the agency’s president and CEO presented a multi-point plan of action.

HABD President/CEO Michael Lundy detailed to the Board of Commissioners his security plan that includes hiring a director of public safety, a zero tolerance policy for guns, increased police patrols and a call for greater resident engagement.

“We’re willing to do whatever it takes to rid the community of crime and violence,” Lundy told the board. “As president and CEO it’s time to take extraordinary action to do whatever we can. I don’t care who gets upset with what we’re trying to do.”

Lundy and housing authority leaders delivered their strongest comments on changing policies and strategies since a deadly shooting at Marks Village earlier this month.

Each of the four HABD board members expressed support for enhanced security measures.

“This board is determined to make sure that our residents are afforded safe, sanitary and decent housing,” said board chairman Cardell Davis. “We want to ensure that all of our residents are safe.”

Lundy said the public safety director position has already generated broad interest.

“We’ve had some people who have had significant experience in law enforcement and we are very interested in interviewing those people and bringing them on board,” he said.

Lundy also stood by his plan to prohibit firearms at HABD properties. He said the staff is working on details to implement that ban.

HABD will conduct a voluntary gun buyback to promote the upcoming ban.

“It’s time to take extreme measures to address these extreme issues,” Lundy said.

Board member Myrna Jackson praised Lundy’s quick action.

“I’m very grateful for the initial security measures,” she said. “You have a solution ready at hand and I think that’s commendable.”

Board member Ray Clark noted that the HABD approach is multifaceted.

“It’s not just one thing that’s going to make our community safe. It’s going to take a number of cumulative actions,” he said.

Residents Monday also underscored the need for enhanced security and offered personal perspectives on the issue.

Eldridge Knighton, president of Morton Simpson Village in the Kingston Neighborhood, said it was time for a frank look at the problem.

Stephanie Carter, president of Southtown Court, said security in her community is improving because of the police action and resident involvement.

“I don’t believe in ‘snitching’ because I’ll tell you to your face,” she said. “Get more of us involved.”

Rev. Morrell Todd called community and resident involvement an essential component in addressing crime. HABD is also working to establish community block watch programs.

“We know that police can’t be there all the time but we can be more vigilant about stressing the importance of working together and looking out for each other,” Todd said.