FORT MYERS, Fla.-- A low income housing complex just feet away from where children attend school has parents on alert. They fear the complex will jeopardize the safety of students at Tanglewood Elementary. Chain link fences are all that separate the apartment complex from the elementary school.
People who live in the neighboring Whiskey Creek and Tanglewood developments say low income housing does not belong next to their school. They fear more neighbors will bring more crime.
"It's a track record the housing authority has established. They have three existing low income properties and all three, bullets are being shot at. It's not an assumption, it's fact. There's no reason to think it won't happen again," said Whiskey Creek resident Ron Damiami.
One of those properties is Sabal Palm. Its also adjacent to a school. That complex has been associated with 68 reports of gunshots fired since the beginning of 2009 according to the Fort Myers Police Department.
But housing director Marcus Goodson says those numbers aren't representative of what residents should expect at Horizons.
"I think their perceptions of public housing are based on driving by and looking by their car window and probably not having any meaningful relationship with anyone who lives in public housing," Goodson said.
To cut down on crime, the Housing Authority employs five Fort Myers police officers and will convert one of the units into a police substation.
Tenants do have to pass a background check and provide good references before moving in. But concerned neighbors say extra security is more of an alarm than a comfort.
"Why would you need that? If the housing is safe why would you need a police substation? Why do you
need additional patrols? Why did you fill in the pool? I don't understand what we're supposed to expect here. Its terrifying," Damiani continued.
Seventeen families who already lived in the complex qualified for the low income housing so they will continue to live there. As of Wednesday, the new residents were expected to move in within seven to ten days.