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Dangerous, unsightly’ clotheslines may fall at VHA

Tony Taylor removes towels from a clothesline for his mother on Elizabeth Circle in the Vicksburg Housing Authority’s Rolling Acres complex.(Sam Freeman The Vicksburg Post

[6/2/04]In Vicksburg’s public housing, residents may no longer be allowed to air their dirty laundry or even clean laundry.

Vicksburg Housing Authority Director Jim Stirgus will propose regulations in this month to eliminate clotheslines in units operated by the federal agency.

Safety and improving the look of the neighborhoods are the goals behind the new rules.

“It’s dangerous, it’s unsightly, it’s a lot of things,” Stirgus said.

Clotheslines pose a hazard to children and maintenance workers, he said.

“A young man at Waltersville Estates drove (a lawn mower) under the clothesline just this month,” Stirgus said.

Lessie Tucker, 153 Elizabeth Circle, does not own a dryer, though she said her son plans to purchase her one soon.

“I prefer the clotheslines myself,” Tucker said. “It makes the clothes fresher.”

During colder months, Tucker uses her daughter’s dryer, she said.

Tucker didn’t think safety is a major concern.

Children “haven’t been hurt so far,” she said.

Other proposed regulations prohibit residents from working on cars on streets or parking areas, “making mechanic’s shops,” as Stirgus said, and loitering. The regulations involve things already prohibited by city code, he said.

“We regulate these houses over and beyond the city. Apparently, the city is not doing a good enough job for me,” Stirgus said.

The new regulations affect all 430 units operated by the housing authority.

Passing new regulations gives housing authority officials the ability to enforce rules without calling the police.

The proposed regulations must be posted for 30 days and approved by a five-member commission.

Stirgus said the regulations would be posted early this month and go before the board in July.

All the proposed regulations are about preventing a double-standard between residents of public housing and city residents, Stirgus said.

“The same expectations of residents on Drummond, Marcus, Cherry (streets), the same expectations should be made here,” Stirgus said. “I’m not allowed to work on my car on a public street.”

Under his proposal, those residents who own dryers will have clotheslines removed immediately, Stirgus said. Those who do not will have one year to get one. After that, the housing authority will remove all lines, Stirgus said.

Most residents own dryers, and others should be able to afford one, Stirgus said.

“There’s no such thing as a resident who can’t afford a dryer. Two hundred and something dollars that’s a crock,” Stirgus said. “If you knew this year to July next year you had to buy a dryer next year, all you have to do is not go to the hairdresser as often as you did … or don’t drink beer.”

Residents already get assistance with their electrical bill, depending on where they live and their income, Stirgus added. Public housing rent cannot exceed 30 percent of a resident’s income.