P-burg Public Housing residents told to remove fences, sheds

Author: , Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published: Apr 03 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 04 2013 09:23:50 AM EDT

After being told last month they had to remove all fences and sheds from their yards, tenants of public housing in Phillipsburg, New Jersey had their questions answered Wednesday night. The Housing Authority says the changes are for the residents' safety.

About 20 upset residents came out to voice their outrage at the Phillipsburg Housing Authority Board of Directors meeting. For nearly two hours they addressed concerns and answered questions.

The authority notified tenants last month of a blanket ban of fences, sheds, clotheslines and personal belongings in yards when they took over grass cutting responsibilities due to liability concerns.

"We were notified by the insurance company that we have certain risks on our property that we have to take care of and we're addressing it," explained Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Rummerfield.

He says most residents are fine with the changes, adding out of 372 rentals less than 10 have a shed or fence. According to him it came down to a safety issue with the insurance company.

"A lot of garbage, a lot of fences and sheds that are in bad repair," shared Rummerfield. "Kids climbing on clothes poles."

People at the meeting had a different view. Many folks voiced concern about how they will dry their clothes once the lines are taken down this month and the units don't include dryers.

"We have to get apartment-sized dryers and they're very expensive," added Christine Pyatt. "The dryers are more than our rent if we have to go buy one."

"I still don't think it's fair," said Eva Smith.

She still hasn't removed the metal fence around her yard. She says she keeps her property clean and safe and feels like she's being punished because of those who haven't done the same.

"I'm gonna still fight to the end," shared Smith. "It's my privacy, after that comes down I don't have anything."

The housing authority says most people are complying, and that eventually every fence, shed and clothesline will be taken down.