Change Comes In Less Than One Year After Policy Announcement
Having rolled out multiple presentations, Homeport is on the verge of eliminating smoking inside and on the grounds of all its senior apartment communities.
Residents of Fieldstone Court, Eastway Village, Eastway Court and Elim Manor will all be converted to smoke-free communities by this fall.
With Elim’s conversion by Oct. 1, senior residents in approximately 250 Homeport apartments will have agreed to abide by the no-smoke rules.
Amber Jones, health educator for the Columbus Public Health, and the lead presenter of the smoke free initiative for Homeport, said the program has gone well if not better than what could be expected.
“I think it has been an extreme success. I am very happy how things are,” Jones said.
Only one person, a resident of Homeport’s Trabue Crossing, a traditional apartment community in the city’s West Side, has been asked to leave after refusing to accept the rules she agreed to when she moved in.
“We gave her more than one chance,” said Brenda Moncrief, Homeport Asset Management Services Manager.
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 and informal conference with the property manager. The third violation results in a meeting with the manager, Columbus Public Health and a Homeport representative. That meeting results in a 30-day eviction notice or an agreement to move out.
Trabue was the first non-senior community to come on line at the time the smoke free policy was instituted for Homeport. As each new Homeport community is built, residents are told of the rules and must accept them to be allowed to rent.
At the same time, Homeport is going back to existing apartment communities and telling them of the changeover in rules.
“We are hoping in the next three to four years everything (at Homeport) will be smoke free,” said Moncrief.
The next residents expected to abide by the rules are those who will be moving into Hilltop Homes II, 39 single family homes being built on the West Side.
Since Homeport rolled out the policy some push back has been expected. And accommodations have been made to ease the transition for some communities.
For example, at Elim Manor, as residents prepare for a total ban on smoke in and outside the facilities, smoking will only be allowed on the back patio and not at the entrance of the building, a place where smoking had been taking place, Moncrief said.
Jones of the Health Department presented the change to Elim residents in early June and made sure they knew support from partnering organizations was available to those who wanted to quit as an alternative to having to smoke off the grounds or moving to another community.
“We are not here to judge or jump on who is a smoker,” she told the audience of residents in the community room. “We understand it is an addiction.”
Residents at the meeting wanted to know if a designated smoking area could be created, or if they could smoke in their cars.
Jones told the group that Homeport was the owner of the building and had the authority to protect other residents from second hand smoke and to reduce the damage to property that can occur from it. She then offered to help those who want to quit.
“We’ll put you in a group with others in the same situation,” she said.
“That will work for me!” a resident responded.