As long as she's not bothering anyone else, Reda Richardson thinks she should be able to smoke at home.
But those days are numbered, the Broad Park Manor resident recently learned. On Oct. 1, the York Housing Authority will enact a no-smoking policy affecting residents of more than 1,000 units across York County.
"It feels like they're infringing on my personal life, telling me to live my life by their rules. I don't think it's fair," Richardson, 67, said. "What I do in my own private premises, it's nobody's business."
Richardson is not alone in her outrage.
Several dozen people - presumably most of them smokers - turned out Tuesday for a meeting about the new policy at the White Rose Senior Center in York City. It was the first in a series of information sessions that will be held at each of the authority's facilities, said Shelley Peterson, director of housing management.
The policy, which also bans smoking within 25 feet of entrances or windows, will go into effect Oct. 1, she said.
"People who are smokers are really not happy," Peterson said. "Nonsmokers are less vocal, but they're happy."
Marlene Sexton-Norrell, another Broad Park Manor resident, said she thinks it's hypocritical of the government to allow the sale of cigarettes but ban smoking in public housing facilities.
"Now they want to say you can't smoke," Sexton-Norrell, 63, said.
The York Housing Authority, which is based in York City, manages affordable-housing complexes throughout the county. Tenants pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. The rest is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Peterson said.
HUD "strongly encouraged" the change in a written memo to housing authorities nationwide, Peterson said.
For now, there's no funding incentive to implement smoking bans, Peterson said. But, she said, "My guess is at some point HUD will mandate it."
The new policy will become part of lease agreements. Residents caught violating the policy can be charged a $250 fee. After three violations, the authority can opt to terminate the lease, Peterson said.
Peterson said the authority does not keep track of how many of its residents smoke.
Despite the passionate feedback, there's almost no chance the authority will abandon its plan before October, Peterson said.
"They believe they have a constitutional right, which they don't," she said.
- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.