Housing authority could take final action on gun policy

Housing authority could take final action on gun policy

CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County board of commissioners could take final action Thursday on a new firearms policy allowing public housing residents to possess guns.

The housing authority previously prohibited its residents from possessing firearms before the agency's insurance provider informed housing officials that the prohibition was a violation of residents' Second Amendment rights.

A final version of the weapons policy will go to the agency's board of commissioners at 3 p.m. Thursday when they meet at the housing authority administration building at 205 W. Park Ave., C.

The policy still prohibits residents' guests from bringing guns onto housing authority property, and residents will have to complete a firearm owner's identification form if they own a gun. Firearms will have to be kept in a locked gun case, rack or box.

The policy explicitly prohibits the discharge of those guns in residences "except when such discharge or use is made or done in self-defense."

Violations of the policy would be grounds for immediate eviction, the agreement says, as would any illegal ownership, possession or transportation of a firearm.

In other business, housing board members are scheduled to select a new chair in their annual election of officers. Vice Chairman Grant Henry has been leading meetings since former chairwoman Margaret Neil was dismissed from the board after a controversy surrounding her appointment.

After an investigation into how Neil came to be a board member, housing and county officials determined her appointment was never confirmed by the county board.

In her 11 months as the board chair, Neil signed 43 board resolutions and one contract. Those resolutions authorized the director, Ed Bland, to conduct housing authority business, such as acquiring property and moving on development agreements.

She voted on far more since she began attending board meetings in 2009. The board on Thursday is scheduled to vote on a resolution "reaffirming and ratifying" all resolutions between March 26, 2009, and July 25, 2013.

Neil has placed the blame for her non-appointment on Bland, saying he never sent her name to the county board for confirmation.

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