More Public Housing Residents Speaking Out Over "No Plant" Policy

Many public housing residents in South Mississippi are still upset over a new rule which prohibits them from planting flowers, shrubs and trees in their yards.

The Mississippi Regional Housing Authority recently sent residents a letter outlining the new policy. The letter claims such flower gardens attract termites.

Last week, WLOX News spoke with residents in Juan D'Cuevas Apartments in D'Iberville. Now residents of Camille Village apartments in Pass Christian say they aren't happy with the policy either.

A single rose bush remains planted next to Willie Cousan's apartment. But this solitary flower will also be coming up soon and joining her potted plants on the porch.

"People come by and they say, 'Oh you've got some beautiful flowers.' People that don't even live here say you've got beautiful flowers. I tell them thank you. When they come back again, 'Oh what happened to your flowers? I had to dig 'them up,' " Cousan said.

The head of the residents council says the neighbor living here was brought to tears over the new policy. Her plants that once decorated the yard are now crowded on the porch in pots.

"She came in and planted grass and she has it looking pretty. It's real green now as you can see. Also her plants were nice and pretty. She had a beautiful yard. Then they told her she had to dig them up, so they're in pots as you can see," resident council President Kelley Bender said.

Resident Mark Fosselman, says the "no planting" rule represents quite a dramatic change in policy for the housing authority. He's always enjoyed working with plants and in his yard. In fact, he's received several awards from the housing authority, thanking him for maintaining a well-groomed yard.

Fosselman says plants help beautify an otherwise plain looking complex. As for the outdoor flowers attracting termites to the apartments, he doesn't buy that argument.

"But I do not believe that we are causing termites by watering rose bushes," Fosselman said.

The new policy regulating flowers and gardens applies to all properties under the jurisdiction of the Region Eight Housing Authority. The housing authority calls the policy an "internal matter." They declined comment on the change.