CRHA adopts FY22 budget, continues discussion of security contract cancelation

The fiscal year for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority began on April 1 and the Board of Commissioners formally adopted a budget at their meeting on March 30. A week before, they had discussed the possibility of ending a $240,000 contract with Sentry Force Security for security patrols of CRHA properties. 

Brandon Collins, an employee of the Public Housing Association of Residents, got right to the point in the public comment period on March 30. 

“We know that the big question before you is what to do about the security contract and the massive amount of money you’re spending for security contract that from you all’s perspective and from many residents’ perspective is not really accomplishing much, especially for the amount of money being spent,” Collins said. 

Tim Sansone with Sentry Force Security once again appeared to make the case for his company to continue being paid to patrol CRHA properties.

“Since we last met last Monday, there’s now over 167 incidents that have occurred since January since we started,” Sansone said. “That’s an increase of 20 since last Monday.” 

Sansone said Sentry Force personnel had also stopped patrolling at Crescent Halls and were instead focusing on checking IDs, a decision made after discussion with CRHA Director John Sales. 

During the discussion of the budget, Sales said he put two positions in the document to pay for CRHA employees to run the door at Crescent Halls.  But he also said CRHA is on track to set aside enough reserves to meet a requirement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by the end of fiscal year on March 31, 2022.

“HUD has us meeting it in two years so we’ll beat that by a year which is really nice so that will get us out of troubled status for our financial situation,” Sales said.

Before the vote, much of the discussion was about the security issue. Sales said a community group called the B.U.C.K. Squad has been patrolling the area. 

“I think the B.U.C.K. Squad is actively working in the communities already even without having a contract or anything in place,” Sales said. 

There is $133,000 in the FY22 budget for a line item called tenant protection. The CRHA Safety Committee will determine how the money in the budget is spent, and it could involve the B.U.C.K. Squad or Peace in the Streets being paid. Commissioner Lisa Green, who joined the CRHA Board last summer, said she was concerned these groups’ work might not be sustainable. 

“I feel like some of this was formed on emotion, on the death of someone and I am concerned that the momentum can keep going when that emotion starts to [dissipate],” Green said. “I do think what is being done is extremely admirable and we talk about thinking outside the box a lot.”

Dr. A’Lelia Henry, a resident who is also on the CRHA Board, heard the concern but felt they would have staying power. 

“A lot of the folks involved in the B.U.C.K. Squad have also been involved in generational issues involving crime within this very community and I think that’s why they feel somewhat closer to what’s going on,” Henry said. 

The contract with Sentry Force will end in May.

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 7, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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