Stable crime trends for Johnstown's public housing

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. - The Johnstown Housing Authority crime report breaks down "family communities" data by year, housing unit and categories like homicides, aggravated assaults and drug arrests. The report compares that data to the number of city arrests. 

The total number of arrests for Solomon, Oakhurst, Prospect and Coopersdale home residents dropped from 138 to 107 from 2015 to 2016, which was 8% of the city's total arrests. 

That number jumped from 124 to 138 the previous year to reach 9.9% of city arrests.

The new Johnstown Police Chief, Robert Johnson, says the numbers suggest a stable trend.

"There are ebbs and tides. There are periods where there are higher numbers. However, when it all balances out. The numbers across the board are generally very very consistent," Chief Johnson said.

The statistics do not include the approximate 500 Section 8 residents living in the city. The report also does not include statistics for Connor Tower, Vine Street Tower, Town House Tower or Loughner Plaza residents in Johnstown.

Police said crime at public housing in Johnstown is consistent with crime in other parts of the city. 

"I think the rates in the housing units are lower than most other places in the city. If you watch the news, you see where the problems are: Moxham, Dale Borough, Hornerstown. In those places, or in fringes of those places," Chief Johnson said.

The housing authority strictly prohibits subletting or boarding and will evict residents involved in criminal activity. They also have security cameras and pay Johnstown police about $400,000 a year for extra patrols around public housing units.

Chief Johnson and the JHA board chairman said there is a perception that people who live in public housing are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, but they said the statistics don't prove that theory.

"Ultimately, it boils down to what you're willing to do in your world of opportunity," said Chief Johnson.

Chief Johnson said his focus as the new police chief will be to combat the transient population of drug users and dealers across the entire city.

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