WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Much of the gang violence seems to happen in public housing communities, but that does not make the families living in these neighborhoods immediate suspects or accomplices.
In fact, it's quite the opposite, according to the organizations working to curb this recent crime wave.
"There are good people that are exposed to really bad stuff," said Jeff Hovis, Chairman of the Wilmington Housing Authority's Board of Directors.
The good people Hovis refers to are children younger than the age of 12 who account for more than a third of the public housing population in the city. Roughly 80% of the 900 units in Wilmington are run by single women, according to Hovis.
"People don't pick to live in this neighborhoods," he said. "The majority of our residents deserve to have a peaceful place to live."
Officer Jonathan Poplin, a member of WPD's housing unit, works in these neighborhoods. Like Hovis, he believes the majority of families have no connection to the crimes committed. Poplin said it's wrong to believe the crime is acceptable because it's happening in public housing.
"People hanging out in a parking lot drinking, doing drugs. Would that fly in your community?" he said. "Why should that fly in Creekwood?"
Poplin's unit is working closely with the WHA. Officers are familiar with the no trespassing list that has more than 650 names on it, according to Hovis. He said any family that welcomes the troublemakers into the community can expect a short stay themselves.
"The people that are enabling that bad element," said Hovis. "We're going full force to get them out of there."
Policy changes are in the works, according to Hovis. He said his goal is to make Wilmington's public housing the benchmark for other cities.
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