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VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES $217.3 MILLION IN GRANTS TO FIGHT CRIME AND DRUGS IN PUBLIC AND ASSISTED HOUSINGWASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore today announced $217.3 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development grants to housing authorities and assisted housing developments around the nation to continue the Clinton Administration's fight against drug dealing and other crimes.
HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, White House Drug Policy Director Barry R. McCaffrey, a Washington public housing resident who created a drug prevention program being funded by the new grants, and a New York City police officer who works in public housing joined the Vice President as he made the announcement.
The 686 new HUD Drug Elimination Grants will go to: 503 public housing authorities ($194.5 million); 26 Indian housing authorities ($5.8 million); and 157 privately owned low-income housing developments that receive HUD assistance ($17 million).
"President Clinton's polices are working successfully around the country to keep gangs, drug dealers and other criminals out of public and assisted housing," the Vice President said. "These grants are the latest in a series of effective steps we're taking to give every American family the opportunity to live in safety."
"Drug dealers and other criminals are entitled to only one kind of government housing -- a prison cell," Cuomo said. "The sooner we can get them out of public and assisted housing, the better. As a result of the President's zero tolerance of crime in public housing, we're making dramatic progress in reclaiming crime-infested neighborhoods around the nation."
McCaffrey said the new grants will play an important role in the nation's anti-drug strategy, and expressed strong support for the initiative.
The nation's crime rate has dropped by 10.3 percent since 1992 -- including a 16.3 percent drop in violent crime. No separate statistics exist for crime in public and assisted housing -- which have historically suffered some of the highest crime rates. However, law enforcement officials in the nation's largest cities say rates for violent crime and drug-related crime in public housing have come down even more sharply in the past five years than in communities at large.
As the Chair of the Crime Prevention Council, Vice President Gore has coordinated the efforts of federal, state and local agencies to create safe communities in public housing developments.
The Vice President, Cuomo and Attorney General Janet Reno announced a four-part enforcement and prevention strategy to fight crime and drugs in public housing in June. The Drug Elimination Grants are one element of that strategy.
Since becoming Secretary of HUD in February, Cuomo has made fighting crime, waste, fraud and abuse involving HUD programs his top priority.
Cuomo said that in addition to benefitting from the President's overall anti-crime policies, public and assisted housing developments have benefitted from other initiatives targeted at crime in such housing, including:
In public housing, the Drug Elimination Grants are used for: drug prevention programs (38 percent of this year's funding); reimbursing law enforcement agencies for providing additional security (30 percent); hiring security guards and investigators (14 percent); drug intervention programs (6 percent); drug treatment programs (2 percent); tenant patrols (2 percent); physical improvements to enhance security (2 percent); and a variety of other initiatives (6 percent).
Housing authorities can also use the grants to provide job training and create jobs for residents in a number of areas, such as security guards and positions in drug abuse prevention and treatment.
New York City -- which has the largest housing authority in the nation -- received the highest single grant this year, of $35 million.
In assisted housing, the Drug Elimination grants are used for: drug prevention and education programs; referrals to drug treatment and counseling; and physical improvements to developments to enhance security. Individual grants for assisted housing are limited to $125,000.
Melvina Middleton -- a resident of the Potomac Gardens public housing development in Washington, DC -- learned shortly before the news conference that the proposal she developed for a drug prevention education program for youngsters in her development will be funded with $43,400 from the Drug Elimination Grants. The resident council will oversee the program.
"The money we're getting can save lives and turn lives around, because we're going to start working with kids who are five-years-old and up," said Middleton, who also works with children in her job at a local Boys and Girls Club. "My neighbors and I are sick of drugs and sick of drug dealers coming here and recruiting young boys to work for them. This money will help us work together to protect our kids."
Jennifer Medina, a New York City police officer who works in public housing developments in Harlem, said: "Crime and drugs are hurting a lot of people in public housing. I know there's no magic solution to ending this problem, but the work we're doing in partnership with community residents and funded by these grants is making a big difference and helping improve people's quality of life."
Here are some examples of successes against crime and drugs achieved by individual housing authorities around the country, working in partnership with HUD:
Content Archived: January 20, 2009