Task Force Assembled To Tackle Crime At Sherman Hills

WILKES-BARRE — A congressman got together with local officials in Wilkes-Barre Wednesday morning to talk about a plan to deal with the recent crime and violations at the Sherman Hills housing project.

More than a dozen federal and state politicians, community leaders, and a pastor met inside the Penn Place building to talk about the formation of a new task force.

Members of this task force say it is voluntary and independent of police and federal housing officials.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton accused the owners of Sherman Hills of misleading Newswatch 16 as well as the city. He says Park Management Incorporated raked in cash as safety equipment started breaking and crime worsened.

One week after federal housing officials reported that broken security cameras, under-staffing, and mismanagement have contributed to crime in and around Sherman Hills in Wilkes-Barre.

Congressman Matt Cartwright announced a new task force to try to identify and fix the root of the problems.

“Closing down that housing complex is a last resort because of the disruption it would do to their families, because of what would remain if that happened. It could go from back to worse,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright /(D) 17th District.

When Newswatch 16 tracked down the owners of Sherman Hills in Brooklyn, New York earlier this month, a property manager said off duty Wilkes-Barre police officers are still working as hired security and surveillance cameras at Sherman Hills were fixed.

Mayor Tom Leighton says that is not true, even though he says Sherman Hills pulled in an estimated $2.4 million last year in rent and federal subsidies.

“There’s been a lot of profit and we pointed that out to them. It’s not like they’re not making sufficient money up there. They’re not maintaining the property, which was clearly evident in the report by HUD,” Mayor Leighton said.

People who live at Sherman Hills, including an expectant mother, tell us that they are hopeful that this task force will bring changes, but they believe that the move is motivated by the city’s image issues.

“They really need to figure out what the problem is. Don’t keep trying to put everybody in as a whole, it’s not right. They’re trying to shut us down and it’s not everybody. Do something. Really come and see what the problem is.”

First Baptist Church Pastor Shawn Walker says he joined the task force because he spent some of his younger years at Sherman Hills.

“It is important to the human fabric, and they need to continue to have hope, while myself and others from community start to try and right this wrong,” Pastor Walker said.

The politicians and leaders of community groups that make up the task force say they won’t set any goals until after they meet with the owners of Sherman Hills. That’s expected to happen sometime next month.

Task force members also say it’s up to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine if the owners of Sherman Hills should be sanctioned.

Wilkes-Barre police say there have been drug deals, burglaries, several shootings, and just recently, a stabbing and a homicide at or near the low income housing complex property just off Coal Street.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the owners of Sherman Hills until Monday to explain how they plan to fix broken surveillance cameras, security systems, and other issues.

8 comments

  • smerf

    Since this is supported by government funding maybe drug tests can be administered at random intervals with random people. Should be one of the stipulations of there contract to live there. The military does this and it does quite well. The only ones who will complain about this is the drug users. Also maybe Wilkes Barre can form a committee that will check out each member that wants residence in the Sherman Hills complex, this way they will get the yay or nay on people who want to stay there.

    The purpose of Sherman Hills is to give decent people who are down and out a decent place to live, not to give drug users, drug sellers, and criminals a place to do their trade. I am all for giving decent people a hand in life, but is Sherman Hills at this stage of the game a decent place to live and bring up children.

  • Amanda

    They should just go in and get rid of the trash there keep the people who actually pay there rent and don’t cause any trouble and just lock up the rest. This world is becoming such a sad and scary place to live!!!

  • jellystoneranger

    Sherman Hills and its’ kind brought to you by Democratic politicians everywhere ! I guarantee you every inhabitant of the complex is a Democrat vote just needing and getting a ride to the booths on election day. Hand out and crying the blues ! A Democrat politician weighing each word so not so much as a sliver of the truth be told about the inhabitants and the kind they attract. Call in the Warthogs for a strategic air strike on the complex ! Oh , I apologize . Give the tenants a ten minute heads up first :) !

    • eric

      @jellystoneranger After reading your comment it seems you like to label people. Allow me to do the same. Based on your comment I will say you, like most of the local population, have very little education. If you graduated high school I’m sure it was just barely. You certainly drive a pickup truck and are most certainly a typical angry alcoholic. How am I doing so far? You seem like a typical violent nepa local and I would wager that you physically and verbally abused your family and those around you all your life. It is people like you that represent the typical WHITE nepa local and it because of behavior like yours that all the decent people, like myself, left this area years ago. Karma has arrived for the people of nepa and it seems most are in denial about getting what they deserve. fyi I am white so you can’t fall back on your typical nonsense as a crutch.

    • John

      Could you help me find a number or address to the owners of Sherman Hills I have been a Facility Manager For 20 years with the Government and I know I can help them. I also have a very good knowledge of security at facilities. I would like to send them my resume.

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