Clinton Orders 1-Strike Rule in Public Housing

<i> From Associated Press</i>

President Clinton ordered eviction Thursday for anyone committing a violent or drug-related crime in public housing, declaring a “one strike and you’re out” rule is needed to make such housing safe.

The president signed a directive ordering Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry G. Cisneros to issue national guidelines for housing authorities to incorporate the policy through tenant screening and lease agreements.

The policy means any resident could be evicted for being involved in a drug-related or violent crime, or for allowing a guest to take part in those activities. Conceivably, a family could be left homeless by the actions of one of its members.


“For some, one strike and you’re out sounds like hardball. Well, it is,” Clinton said. “If you mess up your community, you have to turn in your key. There is no reason in the world to put the rights of a criminal before those of a child who wants to grow up safe.”

Under Thursday’s directive, those targeted for eviction would be notified and given hearings. Eviction would require court sanction, but could take place even if a person hasn’t been convicted of any crime.

The policy drew mixed reviews from public housing residents.

“I think it’s outrageous. People deserve more than one chance,” said Patricia Williams, 40, a mother of six who lives in public housing in southwest Washington.

But Leora Robinson, a resident of a Toledo, Ohio, complex that was cleaned up through one-strike evictions, said such harsh actions often are necessary. She said the policy got rid of the man who stood in front of her door, brandishing a gun in an argument over drugs as she arrived home one evening.

Mayors from more than a dozen cities, including Oxnard, praised Clinton for the policy.

“The drugs, the gangs, the guns make life unlivable. We want to deal with the people who are responsible,” Cisneros said.