East St. Louis Housing Authority
4:35 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

East St. Louis will hire security guards with federal dollars

The East St. Louis Housing Authority will use a portion of a federal grant it received in February to boost security at its seven main housing projects in the city.

The funds will allow for the construction of a perimeter fence at the John DeShields homes, new exterior lighting at the same site, and security cameras at all seven of the authority's major properties. The authority will also be able to hire eight full-time security guards.

US Senator Dick Durbin helped the city secure the earlier grant, and says he'll do everything he can to keep the additional resources coming.

"This property is an asset of the United States of America. And it's an asset which as landlords we need to protect not only our investment in the property but in the people who live here," said Durbin, who grew up in East St. Louis and has been pushing efforts to reduce crime in its public housing for about a year.

ESLHA security coordinator Cortez Slack, who was hired in January, says the guards will be a welcome addition to ongoing partnerships.

"We have a tremendous presence from the WAVE team, we have a tremendous presence from East St. Louis PD, as well as the marshal's service, so adding extra staff as security officers, that's going to increase what we're doing," Slack said.

Also today, Durbin announced that the authority would receive $486,000 over three years to hire social workers who will help residents access resources like education and job training.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann