Community of quality

Cedar Hurst receives federal recognition
Aug. 25, 2014 @ 04:09 PM

A government subsidized housing community in Henderson was recognized recently by the National Affordable Housing Management Association — which represents managers and owners of affordable rental housing across the county.

Cedar Hurst Apartments, located at 720 Highland Drive, met stringent criteria to earn the distinction of becoming a nationally recognized Community of Quality.

“This area has come a long way,” said Ginealla Hart-Wagner, site manager at Cedar Hurst Apartments. “The residents here take pride in their community now, and they participate in a lot of functions going on. They all say we have best apartment community around.”

She said she has been able to improve her housing community in part because she has implemented rules and regulations that residents must follow — such as a curfew and zero-tolerance drug policy.

Hart-Wagner said if she finds illegal drugs in an apartment, that resident would be evicted immediately.

“I always tell them when they come in, there are still rules,” she said. “When you set standards high, then it changes the mentality a lot. It’s a great community, and I’m proud of it.”

Paul Thomas, a maintenance worker at Cedar Hurst, said Hart-Wagner is on top of everything at the housing complex.

“She is doing a great job not only with the upkeep of the property but with the management as well, and it’s a tough job,” he said. “It’s the type of person she is. She confronts the enemy, and most people are too afraid to do that. She’s the type that if you tell her something, she is going to follow up on it. If you have somebody calling up here saying, ‘I know there are guys here with guns and drugs,’ she is going to check it out. Most managers won’t do that. They just sit back and let it happen.”

Thomas said she has banned some people from the property in order to decrease drug and gang activity.

“This is private property so she has the right to do that,” he said. “By her doing that, it helps maintenance out too as far as upkeep of the place because when you start allowing gang-bangers to hang out, they start tearing the place to pieces.”

Cassandra Kearsey, who has lived in Cedar Hurst since the 1980s, said she has seen the community improve within the past several years.

“We used to have a lot of drug activity,” she said. “There was a lot of young people with riffraff who brought the drug activity here. When Mrs. Wagner came in, things changed and we got security cameras. She has really done well since she’s been here.”

Ashley Mitchell, a Cedar Hurst resident for seven years, said the curfew and cameras have made her feel safer.

“When I first moved here, I couldn’t even get up my steps with all the people hanging out on the stairs,” she said. “I would have to use the back steps. But since Ginealla came here, now I can get up the stairs, and I don’t see teenagers just hanging out there.”

Hart-Wagner said communication with residents has helped her establish a safer community.

“Some of them have learned to trust me, and they come tell me what’s going on, but they know its not going any further than me,” she said. “I am not going to say where I got my source from. I don’t like for any of them to feel like they can’t come and tell me anything. I have residents come talk to me about problems they have in their lives, problems with children. I always have an open-door policy when they can come talk to me. And I think that is what has made this community unique.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.