Homeport Sets ‘Smoke Free’ Policy

Trabue Crossing First Community To Experience; More To Come

Homeport has established a three-strikes-and-you’re-out no-smoking policy for its newest rental apartment complex, Trabue Crossing, and could expand to several of its other communities in 2015.

“Homeport cares about our residents, from quality affordable homes to educational programs to food and healthcare,” said Homeport President/CEO Amy Klaben. “Prohibiting smoking is the logical next step in our commitment to healthy families.”

All 52 apartments in the Far West Side of Columbus rental complex have been leased based on applications from 120 individuals and families. Only two individuals chose not to apply after learning about the smoking prohibition that pertains to the residences and community grounds.

A first violation results in a written warning, a re-iteration of Homeport’s smoke-free policy and a mandatory meeting with a representative of the Columbus Health Department on the dangers of smoking. A second violation results in a written warning, reiteration of the policy, informal conference with the property manager and second meeting with the Health Department. The third violation will result in a 30-day eviction notice.

Penalties are based on the time between violations. “After 12 consecutive months of no infractions (resident or resident guest), all prior violations will be dismissed,” the policy states.

“Smoke Free Community” signs will be posted at entry points to Trabue, which is northeast of the Hilliard Rome Road exit off I-70 West. Stickers on apartment windows remind residents of the prohibition. Residents are accountable for their guests. A violation by a visitor can count as a warning to a resident if reported to the property management company, Wallick Communities.

Homeport has over 5300 residents in 2004 apartments in 29 rental communities. Several of the communities, including some for senior citizens, are being considered for no-smoking status in 2015.

“A lot of seniors have had or been around cancer and don’t want smoking,” said Homeport Asset Manager Brenda Moncrief.

The “Smoke-Free” Policy by Homeport, a Central Ohio leader in creating affordable rental homes and apartment communities, is in line with national trends.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said such rules decrease the dangers of second hand smoke and reduces fires and maintenance costs. The National Center for Healthy Housing, a non-profit based in Columbia, Maryland, says some insurance companies offer discounts for multi-unit owners with a 100 per cent smoke-free policy, and that leasing turnover is significantly less.

All those factors were considered by Homeport in establishing the no-smoking rules.

Homeport’s smoke-free policy is “really new” for Franklin County in terms of low to moderate income rental developments, said Amber Jones, Health Education and Program Planner for the Columbus Health Department. “Trabue Crossing is leading the way … It is setting the tone.”

The key to successfully maintaining a smoke free community is resident education, Jones said. “They must know in the beginning when they enter and sign the lease.”