Smoking Ban Coming to RHA Properties

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The Rockford Housing Authority estimates 50-80% of its tenants smoke. Now, a new rule at RHA properties will limit where smokers light up.

Rickey Smalley puffed his first cigarette when he was just 13 years old. Starting on May 31, when he wants to light up, he’ll have to do it here, outside his apartment at Brewington Oaks.

“You know, they’re trying to stop us from smoking in our apartments but don’t know one else have to be in our apartment but us so it don’t bother no one,” said Brewington Oaks resident Ricky Smalley.

The Rockford Housing Authority is spreading the word around all its properties that starting in a few weeks, tenants won’t be able to smoke inside their apartments. A change that’s being met with quite a bit of opposition, even by non-smokers.

“If I pay rent, it look like to me, I should be able to smoke in my apartment,” said Anderson Rosemond. “I feel like if you’re paying your rent, paying your bills, and not causing any trouble, whatever you do in your apartment you should be able to do besides illegal stuff.”

RHA CEO Ron Clewer says with the high turnover rate at RHA properties the Rule Change should save the organization thousands of dollars. Clewer says it costs about $6,600 to get an apartment move-in ready and he says it costs even more to remove the smell of smoke. However, Clewer says it’s not all about money.

“You look at all the other side effects, the asthma and the other health problems that kids have who grow up in houses that have a smoker and we feel it’s imperative that we, not only for the improvement for our property and operations, but the health of our residents.”

Smokers like Smalley say despite the change, they’ll keep lighting up even if it has to be outside.

The rule change takes effect May 31st. If tenants are caught smoking they’ll get a warning. After that, they’ll receive two fines, and then it’s grounds for eviction.

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