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Housing Authority of Picayune plans to seek funding for security features

SURVEILLANCE PLANS: The Housing Authority of Picayune plans to seek grant money to install surveillance cameras, lighting and fencing at its public housing units, including the George Weems housing community pictured here. Photo by Ashley Collins.

SURVEILLANCE PLANS: The Housing Authority of Picayune plans to seek grant money to install surveillance cameras, lighting and fencing at its public housing units, including the George Weems housing community pictured here. Photo by Ashley Collins.

 

The Housing Authority of Picayune is seeking grant money for the installation of new security features at its public housing facilities.

Housing Authority’s Executive Director Toni Watts said they plan to submit a grant application to the U.S. Department of Health and Urban Development in March.

“Every year, the department funds public housing programs nationwide through its capital fund emergency safety and security program,” Watts said. “And we’re hoping to receive funds this year.”

The Housing Authority is responsible for three housing sites located in Picayune, which include 282 units for low-income families, the elderly and disabled.

“We’d like to get the grant so we could install surveillance cameras, fencing and lighting in the areas of our housing communities,” she said.

Watts said they plan on opening six new housing units in April so it’s even more important to provide security for the growing community.

“I’m new as a director, so when I came on board in August the staff was talking about installing security cameras in the communities,” Watts said. “So when I saw the opportunity to apply for a grant with the department, I took it to the board and they agreed.”

She also said they are working with the Picayune Police Department and the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to get local crime statistics, which are necessary to qualify for the grant.

Picayune Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said the installation of surveillance cameras would be beneficial for both the department and the community.

“Anytime you have cameras up it’s a deterrence for criminals to not commit these crimes,” Magri said. “It’s also a tool we could use in every crime to help us identify a suspect.”

Watts said there are a few security cameras installed around their elderly residents’ site.

“But my hope is to spotlight a camera on every street where we have our public housing units,” Watts said.

Last year, she said the department awarded $3.2 million to housing developments nationwide.

“This year, they plan to award $6 million,” Watts said. “So we’re hoping to get awarded some money so we could provide a little more safety in our community.”