Emphasis on Safety Pays Off for PHA

Agency receives grant from HUD and reduction in insurance rate

Philadelphia, PA (September 30, 2010) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority's commitment to safety for its workers and residents has been rewarded with a $250,000 grant from HUD for a new security system at West Park Apartments in West Philadelphia and lower workers comp insurance rates.

"Congratulations to the staff. This grant is recognition of all the hard work the staff continues to do," said Chairman John F. Street.

HUD awarded PHA with the maximum award to implement necessary safety and security measures to address crime and drug related activities at West Park. Specifically, this funding will support the purchase, installation and maintenance of surveillance cameras as part of PHA's anti-crime strategy.

Audrey Lim, director of research and program development, said a private contractor made a security assessment of the current system at West Park. She said the new system is more flexible and will monitor a wider range of area because the new cameras can pan, tilt, zoom, and rotate 360 degrees. 

As a recipient of HUD's Emergency Safety and Security Funding, PHA is taking a further step in enhancing the safety of residents at West Park and the surrounding community through resident education and engagement.

In addition to the grant, Liberty Mutual, PHA's insurance carrier, has informed the agency that its workers comp rates will decrease five percent with the next premium payment or almost $45,000 less than the current premium. The new premium takes effect next month.

PHA Police Chief Richard Zappile, whose duties include risk management for the agency, credited agency workers for "doing such a great job."

Ellen Hugar, Insurance Services Manager for PHA, says the reduction is the result of work done by the agency's safety committee. The state recently certified the work of the committee, something necessary to gain the reduction in rates. Any employee is welcome to bring a safety idea to the group.

"We have a group of people who visit various locations to communicate safe practices to employees," she said. "We work with the fire department on fire drills. We assist in providing information to employees and residents related to various situations."

Hugar says the point is to keep liability down through preventive action.