A change in security for properties of the Philadelphia Housing Authority has sparked concerns for hundreds of local residents, many of them Senior Citizens.
Officials say security guards across all PHA properties will soon be phased out. The current 54 guards on-duty per day will be cut to 41 by September with further reductions to follow.
To cover the gap, the PHA is planning $10 million in security and technology upgrades, including fencing, new cameras, swipe card entry for residents and more patrols from PHA’s police fleet. Several residents say however that the upgrades won’t be enough to replace a live guard stationed on site.
“They’re not going to be patrolling every hour,” said Lucille Jones, a tenant at one of the complexes. “I mean, hands-on is so much better than waiting for somebody to respond to a call.”
Eventually the PHA plans to hire more police officers to stand guard at the complexes and will move towards a community policing model. In the meantime however, the security guards will be replaced by fences and cameras as soon as next week. With no guarantee of when the police officers will be hired or how many, tenants are on edge.
“It would really pain me for them to take security away from the seniors,” said George Upshur, president of the Cassie Holly Tenant Council. “Especially knowing what kind of area we live in. “
PHA officials tell NBC10 they’ve reviewed all of their security guard shifts and will make the first round of reductions only where appropriate.