East Meadows: 'It's the hood but it's good'

What was the crime-riddled Wheatley Courts has been transformed into a community of hope and promise, where neighbors are helping one another to live in peace at the new East Meadows development.

Neighbors who live in the new East Meadows community helped San Antonio police catch a man wanted for a felony weapons violation on Thursday night.

The people who live in what used to be the crime-ridden Wheatley Courts say that this kind of cooperation would have never happened in the old neighborhood.

Now, though, in a state-of-the-art, new complex, a sense of community has taken root, and the neighbors are helping one another and law enforcement.

As the police helicopter followed the man from the far north side, police say that the suspect got out of a car and tried to flee but he did not get far.

Police say that they apprehended the suspect because several neighbors gave police updates on the man’s flight path.

With the wanted man safely contained and in handcuffs, several residents who came outside to watch the commotion were shocked to see crime in what they consider their safe haven.

It is that sense of ownership that makes representatives from the San Antonio Housing Authority proud.

”It's completely different than when we first started in 2009,” said Lorraine Robles with SAHA.

Robles noted that the management team has taken great care in screening residents so that the community is as safe as it can be. She said that good design is also a tremendous asset.

“The residents have the security of limited-access gating so that only they can enter to the interior with their own key fob. It has been a tremendous help to be able to implement this design. There was too much access for individuals to storm through there before,” Robles explained.

Nykesha Butler agrees that East Meadows is a terrific place to live.

Butler and her daughter Shermiya often walk their dog, Boss, and feel completely safe because the private security personnel are always on site.

Crime statistics back up this feeling of security. Since the first of the year, when tenants started returning, the SAPD crime map shows virtually no major crimes at the complex.

“We are living in luxury, but in the hood! It's the hood but it's good,” said Butler, who also noted that management allows no foolishness. "You're going to get right or you are going to get left. You have got to go! It's zero tolerance out here. I love it, with the security and everything!"

A woman who called herself Harriett said that the complex is so good, she believes it's a "God thing."

“I thank God that we do have a place like this to live. The staff is doing a 100 percent job to get the right tenants in and the right people in,” she said.

Butler said that her experience has been so positive, it makes her think the dream of home ownership may be in her future.

“We need to build up a community so we can build up our children and so we can live a better life, so our children won't have to stay on public housing, so they can grow up and go to college. But you have to give them this living for them to do better,” Butler said.

SAHA says that the complex has only 72 percent occupancy, so there is still room for more new beginnings.

In addition to East Meadows, a new 80-unit senior complex is under construction at the site.

“We are 50 percent construction complete with our 80 units of our senior development, which is called Wheatley Park Senior Living," Robles said. "Pre-leasing will begin in the fall, probably in October, and all units will be available by the end of this year.”

© 2017 KENS-TV


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