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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winner: New Mexico

Best Practice: Sandia Vista: Project FOCUS Neighborhood Networks

Drug Elimination Funds Help Combat Gangs, Create Cohesive Community

Albuquerque, New Mexico. Using funds from a 1999 Department of Housing and Urban Development Drug Elimination Grant, the Sandia Vista Project FOCUS Neighborhood Networks Center has created an extensive four-pronged plan to reduce drug- and gang-related activities on the property. Through the efforts of residents, management, and many partnering organizations, Project FOCUS has already helped to decrease the number of calls to the Albuquerque Police Department from the apartments by 60%.

The comprehensive strategy behind these results includes four focus points: rigid

Photo of recipients receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Recipients receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

management practices, physical improvements to security, security/tenant patrol support, and drug and gang prevention programs.

Management Practices: Sandia Vista Apartments has taken a rigid stand against drug related crime in the community. Both residents and applicants are subject to a one-strike system. Background checks are performed not only on heads of household but on every person on the lease over 17 years of age, and a strict curfew is enforced for youths under 17. Any findings of criminal defiance for new or old residents is grounds for denial of housing or eviction. This screening process/grounds for eviction ensures that management does not consciously allow problematic and dangerous individuals into the community.

Physical Improvements to Security:

The physical improvement plan calls for increased lighting throughout the community and a strong fence to surround the property, which should control access at each entry port to discourage the criminal element that is now able to walk onto the property to promote drug activity.

Security/Tenant Patrol Support: Sandia Vista Apartments has worked to increase police presence within the property well beyond baseline limits. In addition, the Sandia Vista goal is to have the Albuquerque police department provide training and support for a Volunteer Tenant Patrol. Police coordinators and the Tenant Patrol working together will create a sense of security and trust among residents. There are also future plans for a Youth Tenant patrol to be trained under the Junior Police Program.

Prevention Program: The first year’s efforts in this area centered around the development of Project FOCUS Neighborhood Network Center. The plan for the coming year includes expanding the offerings of the computer learning center, and providing recreational, educational, and supportive program offerings to engage residents at all levels and enhance the drug prevention program. Expanded offerings will include family communication skills counseling, recreational sports lessons and leagues, recruitment for the Citizen’s Police Academy, nutrition and sewing classes, and cultural and arts activities. All of these programs will be administered through partnerships with federal, state, local and city government agencies and departments, local small businesses and nonprofits, and corporations such as Wal-Mart.

The impact of the Drug Elimination Grant project has been markedly positive. Not only have the number of calls reporting criminal activity decreased, but the number of positive opportunities for residents— recreational, educational, and personal development in nature—have markedly increased.

Contact: Jack MacGillivray, Phone: (505) 260-4800
Tracking Number: 2125
Winning Category: Geographic

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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