An ordinance authorizing City of Rolla Mayor Louis Magdits to enter into a Joint City and Housing Service contract with the Rolla Housing Authority was requested at the Rolla City Council meeting by Rolla Police Chief Sean Fagan.

Chief Fagan asked the council to consider reapproving the Housing Officer Contract with the Rolla Housing Authority. He explained one of the city’s police officers works 50 percent of their shift for the Housing Authority.

In 2015 the City of Rolla and the Rolla Housing Authority mutually agreed to enter into a three-year contract in which the Rolla Police Department would provide and manage a Housing Officer Program in the Rolla Housing Authority.

The contract’s terms of the agreement states that the contract should be renewed and extended annually for additional and successive one-year terms, until the full term ends on May 31, 2018. After the full term a new agreement has to be made if desired, since it is mutually agreed that the Rolla Housing Authority annually evaluates the Housing Officer Program and the performance of the Housing Officer.

The Rolla Police Department has been working with the Rolla Housing Authority to improve the quality of life for the residents of Section 8 and affordable public housing buildings in Rolla by working to eradicate the criminal element that lives in or frequents Section 8 and public housing since around 2010, said Interim Chief Rick Williams, at the final reading on the Joint City and Housing Service Contract in 2015.

Through the contract, the city of Rolla agreed to employ one Housing Officer during the term of the agreement, who would be an employee of the City of Rolla and subject to the administration, supervision and control of the City of Rolla and the Rolla Police Department.

The contract included the Rolla Housing Authority agreeing to compensate the City of Rolla with 50 percent of the total cost of the Housing Officer’s salary. In return, the Rolla Police Department will ensure that the officer devotes an average of 20 hours a week performing the Housing Officer duties.

“The Missouri Housing Authority has a position where we have one of our police officers work for them for 50 percent of his shift. They pay 50 percent of his salary,” said Fagan. “He is in charge of 150 public housing homes that we have here in Rolla as well as the 160 Section 8 housing that we have.”

The objective of the Joint City and Housing Service Contract with the Rolla Housing Authority is for the Housing Officer to work in reducing the overall crime in the housing buildings; serve all legal notices or help serve the notices as a liaison between the housing authority and other law enforcement agencies.

Further, the Housing Officer should act promptly and cooperatively when responding to significant disruptions and flagrant criminal offenses at the building and grounds, such as: disorderedly conduct by trespassers, the possession and use of weapons on building properties and the illegal sale and distribution of controlled substances.

A principal focus of the Joint City and Housing Service Contract is reducing drugs within the housing units. Housing officials must notify the Housing Officer in all cases involving possession, sale or distribution of controlled substances at housing units.

Housing officials must then turn over any confiscated controlled substances to the Housing Officer, so the officer can work with the narcotics division to curtail drugs within housing units.

There are eight low-income housing apartment complexes which contain 466 affordable apartments for rent in Rolla. Many of the rental apartments are income based housing with 344 apartments that set rent based on a person’s income, according to the Rolla Housing Authority.

Often referred to as HUD apartments, there are 44 Project-Based Section 8 subsidized apartments in Rolla, and  272 other low-income apartments don’t have rental assistance but are still considered to be affordable housing for low-income families.

The Rolla City Council had the first reading of the ordinance on Oct. 15, 2018. The first reading was followed by a motion that was made and seconded to suspend the rules and have the final reading on the ordinance, which passed.

The Housing Authorities that serve Rolla are the Rolla Housing Authority and the Phelps County Public Housing Agency. The Rolla Housing Authority is a Section 8 and public housing agency in Rolla, and the Phelps County Public Housing Agency is also a Section 8 public housing agency located in St. James.