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David Egner(202) 708-0685 x147Tuesday
Vivian Potter (202) 708-0685 x117October 8, 1996


WASHINGTON -- Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros today awarded $716 million to 74 communities around the country as part of "a major step forward in the Clinton Administration's historic and unprecedented transformation of public housing."

Cisneros said almost $477 million of the grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will pay for demolishing some of the nation's worst public housing, for improving public housing, and for building new public housing.

Nearly 17,000 substandard units of public housing will be demolished with the grants from HUD's HOPE VI program.

About 4,000 new units of public housing will be built, creating successful residential communities that will help revitalize surrounding neighborhoods, Cisneros said.

Another $239 million of the grants will fund assistance that will allow over 15,000 families displaced from public housing by demolitions and rehabilitation projects to rent apartments on the private market.

"For decades, our nation failed to launch a comprehensive and effective attack on the problems of public housing," Cisneros said. "The Clinton Administration changed that. We've come up with a successful strategy to fundamentally change public housing, and to give the people living there a real chance to improve their lives."

"These grants will allow us to continue transforming public housing developments from isolated ghettos of poverty, crime and despair into neighborhoods of hope and opportunity," Cisneros said.

Cisneros said the new federal budget sets aside another $550 million for public housing grants -- to be awarded in May. That assistance will come on top of the $716 million in grants announced today.

"Our transformation of public housing is helping many of its 3 million residents -- most of them children and their single mothers -- to dramatically turn around their lives," Cisneros said. "Because of this federal assistance, many families living in public housing will move from welfare to work. Many will eventually move from public housing to private housing."

The grants will allow the Clinton Administration to continue implementing its four-part strategy to revitalize public housing.

Congress failed this year to pass legislation to make HUD policies implementing the strategy permanent. However, appropriations measures passed by Congress and HUD's use of its powers under current laws will allow the Department to continue carrying out its public housing strategy for a second year.

The strategy calls for:

  • Demolishing and replacing the worst public housing, to change the physical landscape of public housing. Since President Clinton took office, HUD has approved demolition of over 46,000 obsolete units of public housing. By the end of this year, about 30,000 of those units will be demolished. By 2000, HUD will approve demolition of a total of 100,000 units of substandard public housing. From 1981 to 1993, 22,000 demolitions were approved.

  • Improving the performance of public housing authorities. HUD is playing a major role in the operations of housing authorities that were performing below acceptable standards. Residents say problems are being solved, and life is improving.

  • Cracking down on crime, gangs and drugs in public housing. Last week, HUD announced another $259 million in grants to 650 communities to help them continue to fight these problems in public housing. As a result of the continuing crackdown, housing authorities report reductions in drug dealing and other crimes. Since 1994, HUD's Operation Safe Home anti-crime program has worked with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to make over 9,400 arrests, and confiscate over $18.4 million in illegal drugs, 1,300 guns, and $2.4 million in cash in public housing. The "One Strike and You're Out" guidelines authorized by President Clinton in March instituted tough screening and eviction measures to bar drug dealers and other criminals from public housing.

  • Changing the underlying social dynamic in public housing. HUD helps residents to get jobs, climb the economic ladder, and eventually leave public housing. Assistance under this initiative funds programs to give public housing residents training, education, child care and job placement services so they can move from welfare to work. One of these programs is the new Campuses of Learners, which will provide public housing residents with training in computers, telecommunications and other job skills.

With the assistance of Congress, HUD will also continue rent reforms that allow many public housing residents who go to work or are already working to keep a bigger share of their income, encouraging them to get and keep jobs.

In addition, HUD will continue policies that enable more struggling working families to live in public housing, serving as role models for residents on welfare.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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