September 20, 2000
Dear Executive Director:
I am writing to let you
know that "BuyBack America," HUDs Gun Buyback and
Violence Reduction Initiative, is alive and well, and that public housing agencies (PHAs)
still have the opportunity to participate. A more complete description of this initiative
PHAs may still request to
program a portion of any available Public Housing Drug Elimination Program (PHDEP) funds
to help take unwanted guns off the streets of public housing communities. Through the gun
buyback, individuals may turn in firearms to local police departments working in
conjunction with PHAs. These guns are usually exchanged for cash, vouchers or gift
certificates. (HUD suggests an exchange value of $50 per firearm.)
Matching funds from HUD
are available to PHAs at the rate of $43 for every $100 in PHDEP funds that PHAs commit to
BuyBack America, as long as those funds remain.
As some of you know, a few
Members of Congress inquired about BuyBack America and HUDs use of PHDEP funds for
the buyback. Those concerns have been fully addressed. Gun buybacks remain an eligible
part of PHDEP. In fact, President Clinton has called on HUD to proceed with the initiative
to remove unwanted guns and reduce violence in our communities. I encourage your agency to
consider this important violence-reduction tool. In the first few months of the buyback,
nearly 20,000 firearms have been removed from Americas streets and homes. I invite
you to help that number increase by participating in BuyBack America.
The attached document outlines basic steps you need
take in order to join the BuyBack America team. As you will see, the requirements are
quite simple, so your buyback could take place within a few weeks of your request being
submitted to HUD, if you so wish.
In a related matter, HUD
has signed an agreement with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to assist
housing agencies with organizing successful gun buybacks. SCLC has worked to organize
successful gun buybacks since 1993, and will provide technical assistance to help a
limited number of PHAs enhance their gun buyback efforts at no charge. First-time
and repeat gun buyback participants should indicate their interest for TA when they submit
their requests to participate in the Buyback America.
Thank you for your
attention. I look forward to hearing from you.