Resident leaders with the Meridian Housing Authority are calling for an apology from the recently elected president for the Meridian/Lauderdale County Branch of the NAACP.
"We are very disappointed, and these statements are just false assumptions; this is just what he's assuming," says Brenda Griffin, who is the Residential Advisory Board President for the Meridian Housing Authority. She's referring to want she calls "false statements" that have been made about the housing authority by Randle Jennings on a recent edition of Newscenter 11's 'On the Record Program,' and also in a recent letter that he sent to several public officials.
The comments on the news program involved Jennings' concerns about the housing authority, parks service for the city and public school system not getting on one accord to develop an inter-local agreement. This is something that the director for the housing authority disputes.
Meanwhile, Griffin and other residential leaders for MHA say comments which Mr. Jennings made in a letter that he recently sent to the mayor, school superintendent, a supervisor and others about the housing authority are not true. In that letter he refers to a quote, 'perpetual cycle' within MHA which causes unwed young mothers to go on a 'long waiting list' for housing.
"It's a generalization that shouldn't have been stated," says Highway Village Tenant President, Rosaland Lynch. "We as a community know that we can all do better, but the point and the case is that the housing authority, the police department, and educational system are making those provisions. It's up to the families of those households to ensure that they have what they need."
"You can find that on North Hills, State Boulevard," says Renata Green, who is the president for the Eastern Gardens Residents' Association. "You can find it anywhere. It's not just the housing authority, and I don't know why he would say that it's just about the housing authority."
According to MHA data, there are currently 343 families on the agency's waiting list. Of those, more than 98-percent have never lived in public housing.
"In the housing authority, we're developing cycles of home ownership," says Oakland Heights resident, John McGlothin.
"The statements that he's making may have applied back when he was growing up; that may have been true about thirty years ago, but this is a new millennium, and the Meridian Housing Authority has really changed,"says Brenda Griffin. "They have so many opportunities for the residents to become self-sufficient for their-self, and the residents of the Meridian Housing Authority are expecting a public apology for the comments that were made negatively."
Randle Jennings declined an offer to talk with Newscenter 11 on camera. However, he did later e-mail us a response. In it he says in part, "Divide and conquer is used in order to maintain power and influence, large governments will often work to keep smaller powers and governments from uniting."