RE “SHOOTING renews debate about public housing’’ (Metro, Aug. 14): Why is it that a public housing official can denigrate a substantial population he is charged with assisting and protecting, and can still keep his job? Bill McGonagle, head of the Boston Housing Authority, says it’s poor public policy to allow people with disabilities to live among elders in the same development. Is it any more outrageous than allowing elders to cross the street, live in gang-infected neighborhoods, or use a chair to reach a cabinet?
The fact that almost all the people in elderly and disabled housing are, in fact, disabled is obscured when there is an unfortunate incident such as the one that occurred in Brighton. The focus is on the man’s mental health disorder, and the implication in McGonagle’s comment is that people with a disability, much less a mental health disorder, are a threat to their neighbors.
Focus should be on the availability of firearms in general, and attention should also be paid to elder-upon-elder violence in senior and disabled public housing. Many resident of these developments, because of the lack of other safe public housing opportunities, are blind, deaf, or have physical disabilities. They occasionally are victims as well.
The fact that community mental health funding has been decimated means that community care workers are almost nonexistent. Support services within housing complexes are not capable of dealing with issues more serious than ambulances or bingo.
William F. Allan
Director of policy and advocacy
Disability Policy Consortium