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Tow story: Manchester’s cold shoulder

What has happened to our sense of community?

Last Thursday, Awur Jok, a 45-year-old single mother who lives in the Elmwood Gardens public housing complex in Manchester, had her car towed from the parking lot of the place she calls home. She has lived there, she says, for about 14 years. The staff and residents know her. They should have helped her.

Jok, who works second shift, awoke Thursday morning to a neighbor knocking on her door to tell her that her car was being towed. It was the only help she got that day. She threw on her bathrobe and went outside. As the car was already on the truck, she was told she would have to pay the $110 fee to get it back. She went in and collected all the cash she had. She came out with $100. The driver would not take it.

She asked the Elmwood Gardens manager to intervene. The manager would not. It is against policy. “You never know how it’s going to play out,” said Dick Dunfey, executive director of the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority. “Sometimes people get angry.”

They should get angry. They should get angry at a housing authority that gives only a horn-honk warning before having a parking lot cleared for plowing. They should get angry at a housing authority that watches coldly as their cars are towed on the authority’s orders.

They should get angry at a Board of Mayor and Aldermen that last year raised the towing fee in the city by 57 percent — from $70 to $110. They knew this would hurt city residents, especially those with lower incomes. They did it anyway. They should be angry at a city that is losing its sense of community.

Eric Church
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