Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Banking Committee. My name is Kurt Creager and I am here in my capacity as President of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). NAHRO is the nation’s oldest and largest membership organization in the United States devoted to affordable housing and community development. NAHRO represents more than 5,600 individuals, including approximately 2,500 housing agencies. NAHRO members own or manage more than 1.3 million units of public housing, representing 97 percent of all public housing in the United States. In addition, our members administer more than 1.3 million, or 93 percent, of Section 8 vouchers. Funds used by NAHRO’s Community Development/Redevelopment members serve communities with populations of more than 148 million.
I am also the CEO of the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) in Vancouver, Wash. The VHA is a countywide housing provider, immediately across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore. Standard and Poor’s has classified the VHA as a "Strong" local housing authority with a "Stable" outlook. We are a HUD high-performer and were part of the first wave of Moving-to-Work (MTW) agencies selected by HUD for the MTW deregulation demonstration. We are responsible for about 4,500 dwelling units, about half of which are federally financed and half of which are privately financed with tax exempt bonds, tax credits and /or state and local resources. Our portfolio also is made up of 575 public housing units and 1,850 vouchers.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you on the recently approved FY 2002 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and provide comments on the pending FY 2003 budget. Before I begin my remarks, it is important to understand that while NAHRO may have disagreements with the budget proposed by this administration, we are continuing to work with its members to find areas of common ground.
Unfortunately, the President’s proposed FY 2002 budget misrepresented the facts on how key housing programs, such as the Capital Fund and the drug elimination program, are administered. This misrepresentation, which I will reference in my comments, established a framework of discussion during the appropriation process that distorted the significant amount of work that is being done in communities throughout the country to serve the needs of our nation’s poorest citizens. As a result of some of this distortion, we witnessed cuts to many key programs that generate jobs and address local needs. In our view, the FY 2002 budget falls short of meeting local needs and illustrates the need for additional resources in the FY 2003 budget.
STIMULUS DEBATE MISSES OPPORTUNITY
Clearly, the attacks that occurred on September 11 have forced Congress to re-evaluate its priorities. However, while Congress attempts to determine how to respond to terrorism, it must understand that a strong financial commitment to local housing and community
development needs is a means to strengthen homeland security and a means to stimulate the economy. The exclusion of housing and community development programs from the stimulus debate that has consumed Washington over the last two months is a missed opportunity to highlight the benefits that HUD-funded programs provide to local economies. These programs infuse local economies with resources that create jobs, build housing units, and improve infrastructure projects. For example, a new production program attached to a stimulus bill will immediately create jobs in the construction and building supply industries, while providing housing for low- and extremely low-income households.
Our country needs a new production program that provides funds directly to local communities to build housing units for low- and moderate-income households. Organizations such as NAHRO have been advocating for a new affordable housing production program for close to two years. The need for increasing the supply of affordable housing is well-documented and does not need to be repeated here. A production program will provide an infusion of dollars that can help spur local economies, address pressing affordable housing needs and sending a clear message that the federal government has not allowed the war on terrorism to deflect resources from pressing homeland needs.
Even if a production program was not enacted, funding of HUD programs creates jobs. Investment in federal programs generates a multiplying effect in local communities. For example, Washington State University’s Real Estate Research Center determined that residential real estate is the second largest contributor to the state’s economy, after international trade. The Boeing Company is fifth and Microsoft is sixth, in comparison. Washington State is heavily dependent on trade. It leads the nation in unemployment with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6. percent in October. This rate was computed before any of Boeing’s 30,000 layoffs took effect.
An investment in housing is a good investment in local and state economies. This is as true today as it was in 1983 when the Congress appropriated supplemental CDBG funds to entitlement cities, urban counties and states. NAHRO analysis, by department, of the major programs funded (CDBG, HOME, Capital Fund, Operating Fund, HOPE VI, etc.) indicates that approximately 680,000 jobs are either created or sustained, through these programs, in local communities throughout the country. A cut to these programs means that jobs will be lost, while an increase means that jobs will be gained. It is also important to note that the population served by NAHRO members is among the poorest in our society. The downturn in the economy has resulted in a loss of the marginal jobs low-income workers tend to hold. As their incomes decrease, the demands for public housing, Section 8 and other federally supported services increase.
FY 2002 BUDGET AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR FY 2003
The FY 2002 budget sends a very dangerous message to local communities struggling to meet the basic needs of their constituents. For example, Congress appropriated $68 million less this year (FY02) for the CDBG formula than in FY01. The FY02 VA, HUD bill contains $4.34 billion for the CDBG formula, compared to $4.409 in FY01. All of this has occurred despite these programs’ proven track record in creating new jobs. According to the Department, local programs funded by CDBG created more than 116,000 jobs in FY 2001. Over the course of its 25-year history, the CBDG program generated, on average, approximately 87,000 jobs per year, according to NAHRO’s report, More Than Bricks and Mortar: The Economic Impact of the Community Development Block Grant Program. In addition to decreased funding, formula allocations to entitlement communities will decrease due to the higher number of entitlement communities receiving formula allocations. Population data from the 2000 Census led to the establishment of more than 20 new entitlement communities over the past two years. Therefore, more communities will share a decreased pot of formula funding in FY 2002. CDBG also benefits communities in a variety of ways. For example, in FY 2001, 170,000 homes were repaired as a result of CDBG funds. CDBG also funds daycare centers for working families, nonprofits offering services to low-income families, and infrastructure improvements. The program provides localities with the needed flexibility to address community needs in a timely fashion.
Additionally, the HOME program is another stimulator of local economies. In the FY 2002 budget, the HOME program was essentially level funded at $1.846 billion. However, it did include a $50 million set-aside for a Down Payment Assistance Initiative, subject to subsequent authorizing legislation that must be passed by June 2002. This is the first year that HOME has had a set-aside taken from the formula to create a new program. Most distressing about this set-aside is that it already is an eligible activity under HOME. Many communities are already providing down payment assistance using HOME dollars. This new program simply duplicates existing activities and does not give communities the flexibility to best meet their local needs. NAHRO strongly opposes this set-aside. In FY 2003, the HOME formula should be funded at $2 billion with no set-asides.
It is important to note that the HOME program has never been fully funded at the authorized level of $2 billion. This is unfortunate given the program’s success since its inception. Since it’s beginning, the HOME program has produced, on average, 50,000 units a year and has created approximately 400,000 units of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. In FY 2001, HOME produced approximately 70,000 units of affordable housing.
Public Housing Capital Fund
We appreciate Congress’s efforts to restore the deep cut proposed by the Administration to the Capital Fund in FY2002. Despite congressional efforts, the Capital Fund still experienced a 5.5 percent reduction from the FY 2001 level of $3 billion. We hope that the focus for FY 2003 will be to increase funding to $3.5 billion; expand flexibility in the use of these funds; enhance support for agencies that seek to develop and use new financing tools; and provide greater emphasis on public-private partnerships to close the gap between federal funds and program needs.
The Administration’s proposal created an unfortunate distortion of the facts, which made it appear that nearly $6 billion was unexpended and $3 billion unobligated through FY 2000. In fact, though, FY 2000 funds should not have been included since the obligation and expenditure time limits have not yet occurred. We estimate the amount to be $2.6 billion unspent and $1 billion unobligated through FY1999 funding. We recognize that there are a few large agencies that do have problems with obligation and expenditures and a few that have legitimate delays.
We also continue to be concerned about the mismatch between the Administration’s push toward more marketable, mixed-income communities, including those with incomes below 30 percent of area median, and the downturn in funding for capital improvements. The funds appropriated, which are subject to set-asides, will not help housing agencies reach the goals for public housing set by Congress and the Administration.
Building on the success of the HOPE VI program, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA) provides housing agencies with the flexibility to leverage their capital funds to attract more private investment to address backlogged modernization needs that have resulted from this provision. Chicago and Washington, D.C. have already sold securities backed by the future revenue anticipated from the Capital Grant. NAHRO agrees that housing agencies must be partners with the private sector. For that reason, NAHRO has formed a partnership with the Bank of America, the Enterprise Foundation, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. This partnership, the NAHRO Access Alliance, will provide local housing agencies with opportunities to access the capital markets. Reductions in the Capital Fund undercuts the innovative activities we want to achieve. Any reduction in Public Housing Capital Fund sends an alarming signal to private markets interested in participating in mixed-finance agreements with local housing agencies. We must be seen as reliable partners by the capital markets to attract significant new private capital. Our reliability will be called into question should the Public Housing Capital Fund be reduced.
We ask that in FY 2003, Congress provide at least $3.5 billion for the Capital Fund to ensure that resources are available to address capital needs. This will underscore congressional commitment to foster public-private partnerships that will meet the growing need for quality housing affordable to extremely low-income and low-income households.
Public Housing Drug Elimination Program (PHDEP)
The decision to eliminate the Public Housing Drug Elimination Program (PHDEP) is very disconcerting at a time when security concerns have increased dramatically as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The drug elimination grant program is an effective tool in reducing crime and drug activity in public housing throughout the country. In fact, there is a great deal of support for prevention programs that have proven to alter the behavior of at-risk populations and effectively address security concerns within local communities. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that intensive parent-child involvement is critically important to enabling teens to avoid substance abuse and other at-risk behaviors. A significant percentage of PHDEP funds go to activities designed to facilitate such involvement and alter the environmental influences, risks, and expectations that may lead youth to drug abuse or violent crime.
Sixty-five percent of the funds are spent on prevention and law enforcement activities. Prevention is less costly than eradicating an entrenched criminal element. Eradicating drug-related and violent crime from a community is costly – more costly than the level of law enforcement already provided by a jurisdiction. PHDEP provided funds for housing agencies to pay for the additional services they needed to eradicate these problems. Establishing new behavior and expectation after eradication requires services targeted to at-risk youth and adults – PHDEP grantees spent 35 percent of their funds on these efforts.
Rolling PHDEP funds into the FY2002 Operating Fund budget may provide a few extra dollars to all local housing agencies (LHAs), but will not provide funds at the level needed to sustain youth prevention programming and other activities that create and maintain safe communities. LHAs faced with the decision to pay utility bills to keep residents warm or pay for drug and crime prevention efforts, will obviously deal with their most immediate and vital needs. PHDEP funds also have leveraged other federal and local funds to expand services for their communities. Furthermore, the events of September 11 have placed additional demands on local police departments to increase security in areas designated as high- priority areas. Many of these local police departments will be unable to compensate for the lost drug grant funds that were directed to protect public housing residents.
During the hearings on the FY 2002 budget, Secretary Mel Martinez said it was virtually impossible to measure PHDEP’s program successes. However, HUD requires agencies to submit data explaining their accomplishments and has published studies, guidebooks and GIS mapping software to measure the success of the program. Public Housing Operating Fund.
In FY2002, the Operating Fund has been boosted by about $250 million from the merger of PHDEP funds. These funds could result in housing agencies receiving at least 100 percent of their operating subsidy request. But the increase comes at the expense of the PHDEP program. There is no net gain in funding; in fact, funding for safety and security is now lower than ever – the lower amount of $250 million must be divided among all 3,400 housing authorities. Programming and activities formerly supported by PHDEP funds may be discontinued in order for housing agencies to meet operating expense needs. NAHRO has already received calls from many agencies preparing their Agency Plans for FY 2002 who are struggling with these decisions.
NAHRO supports funding the Operating Fund at least at the level of $3.5 billion for FY 2003, but not at the expense of eliminating the drug elimination program. This funding level is critical as HUD receives information from the Harvard Cost Study Group that is attempting to determine the appropriate formula for the Operating Fund. There are a number of issues in the current approach that concerns NAHRO. These include the methodology, the
public process and the progress of the study. However, our principal concern is that the researchers are not studying the real costs of operating public housing. They are using a proxy-based study that uses the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) data. The researchers will simply approximate the cost of public housing by using the FHA cost data and apply an adjustment factor to compensate for public housing
NAHRO is very concerned with this adjustment factor. It is unclear how the study team will craft a numeric adjustment factor from qualitative data that it plans to collect by questionnaire. Combined with the use of non-public housing cost data, our concern grows since the cost study will do little to accurately demonstrate the cost of operating public housing, and will be of little use in finalizing the Operating Fund formula. Throughout their work, the study team has maintained that it would be too expensive and take too long to collect data from public housing agencies. We disagree and believe the tools can be developed to help housing agencies calculate their actual costs from the information they now maintain, but do not submit to the department. They have not been asked to submit this data. To reject this method is simply losing an opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness in public housing and understand its true operating costs.
Revitalization of Severely Distressed Public Housing (HOPE VI)
NAHRO strongly supports reauthorization for the HOPE VI program with funding at $625 million for FY 2003. We support programmatic changes that would include more small agencies as grantees, and adapt application and grant management procedures to small agencies. Appropriations for the program should be increased to assure that grants would be awarded to previously submitted and approvable applicants. The program should continue to award grants to additional, new applicants. The definition of "severely distressed public housing" should be amended to enable local housing agencies to serve all public housing populations in addition to families; to give equal emphasis to physical and social or community distress; and to reduce the emphasis on, or requirement for, demolition of public housing units as a criteria for approving an application or redevelopment plan. Programmatic and process changes must be made to improve the application, selection and award process and to simplify implementation of the program, especially for small agencies.
NAHRO supports the provision in the FY 2002 appropriations conference report that requires HUD to provide Congress with a report covering the program’s best practices, lessons learned, impact on surrounding communities, and the extent to which the program has leveraged private investments and revitalized economic development in the target communities. We believe this would be a useful analysis that can guide the program in the future.
The FY 2002 appropriations bill raises two critical budget issues that need to be addressed in the Section 8 program. NAHRO is encouraged by the fact that the FY 2002 appropriations bill includes sufficient resources to ensure that all-expiring Section 8 contracts will be renewed. We are also encouraged that report language was included that directs the Department to provide the necessary resources for agencies that will require more than one month of reserves to serve their authorized number of families. The Department agrees that housing agencies in need of the additional resources will receive them.
Housing agencies need assurances that Congress will continue to renew all Section 8 contracts in succeeding years and ensure that sufficient reserves are available when program costs become excessive. The Section 8 program is a market-driven program with costs that can vary from year to year. Successful implementation of the Section 8 program is complicated by the many factors that affect utilization of the vouchers. Any one of these issues, or a combination of issues, can impact a recipient’s ability to use their voucher.
Both the cost and availability of units are the two principal factors that have the biggest impact on the Section 8 program. Between 1997 and 1999, the number of units with rents affordable to households with incomes below 50 percent of area median income (AMI) dropped by 1.1 million units, a loss of 7 percent in the affordable housing stock. HUD’s A Report On Worst Case Housing Needs in 1999 found that 4.9 million households endure worst-case housing needs, including 10.9 million people. Among this group are 3.6 million children, 1.4 million elderly, and some 1.3 million disabled adults. Over three-fourths of renters with worst-case housing needs, had a severe rent burden of 50 percent or more as their only housing problem. In addition, waiting lists for housing assistance are longer than ever before.
The national call for a new production program geared toward providing new units for those below 50 percent of median income indicates that there is a significant need for housing units for our nation’s poor. Available housing resources for those earning less than 50 percent of median income are dwindling throughout the country. When private market rental units are available, families are spending more than 50 percent of their income for rents due to the cost of the unit.
Landlord participation determines the number of units that are available for voucher holders. When the economy is good, landlords often choose not to participate in the program. They can charge higher rents to unassisted households without worry about paper work or compliance with program regulations.
Housing Agency Management
Much has been said about the ability of housing agencies to administer the Section 8 program. According to HUD, 92 percent of current vouchers are being used in communities. To put this in perspective, if our school systems were graduating students with a grade point average equal to the utilization rate of Section 8, education reform would be unnecessary. Clearly, we must find a way to more successfully use the remaining 8 percent of vouchers. Where management failures are the problem, HUD should exercise its authority to address them. The few management failures that exist do not warrant a wholesale change in the administration of the program. Housing agencies are in the best position to administer this program. They have a track record of working with landlords, know their local markets, and spend a great deal of time counseling voucher holders in helping secure housing. There are many factors, outside an agency’s control, that affect its ability to assist families in finding housing.
Local zoning policies determine the type and location of housing in communities. These policies, controlled by the local government, dictate where certain types of housing can be built and whether they are multifamily or single-family dwelling units. This impacts where families may look for units, the cost of those units, and the availability of units. Family decisions also affect where vouchers are used. Proximity to family, work, church, etc. also factor into the search for housing and is not a reflection of mismanagement.
CONGRESSIONAL AND HUD ACTIONS NEEDED TO IMPROVE THE PROGRAM
Fair Market Rents
Fair market rents (FMRs) are estimates of rent plus the cost of utilities. They are market-wide estimates of the rent subsidy that should be provided to families to allow them to rent standard quality housing throughout the geographic area’s competitive market. Despite the rental assistance program’s overall success, NAHRO believes there is a need to increase the FMR to the 50th percentile for all communities to help alleviate the increasing concern of underutilized vouchers. NAHRO completed a survey in 2000 that demonstrated that increasing the FMR would help families find housing. HUD recognized the increasingly difficult task of finding sufficient numbers of units at a lower percentile and authorized increases in a limited number of jurisdictions. While the increase will cost the federal government more money, the reality is that it will guarantee that more voucher holders will be successful in their search for housing.
One criticism of the Section 8 program is that the vouchers are underutilized in some markets. Increasing the FMR provides recipients of this assistance with greater housing choices in order to utilize the vouchers they have been given. HUD took the appropriate first step when it raised the FMR to the 50th percentile in FY 2001 for a limited number of communities. There must be increases in resources to extend this increased FMR to all communities.
40 Percent Cap
In 1998, statutory changes limited the family’s contribution on any newly executed Section 8 contract (regardless of whether the family is new to the Section 8 program or just moving to a different Section 8 unit) to 40 percent of the family’s adjusted income. There are no exceptions to this limit. NAHRO believes participants in the program should have the flexibility to pay more than 40 percent of their income for the initial rent to secure an apartment. Many NAHRO members have raised concerns that participants must turn down units because they are prevented from paying more than 40 percent of their income to secure the apartment. We agree with the concern that families should not pay an excessive amount of their income on rent, however, if a family is willing to exceed the 40 percent cap, they should have the option to do so if that is necessary to secure an apartment of their choice. If they are paying 42 to 45 percent of their income for a Section 8 unit, it is still less than they are paying in the open market. One solution is to allow housing agencies to base the 40 percent cap on gross income versus adjusted income.
Flexible Use of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
The HAP is the portion of assistance that is paid to the landlord. The tenant is responsible for the balance of the rent amount. Because some voucher holders are unable to find units, many housing agencies believe they should have greater flexibility in using the HAP for purposes that will assist participants in securing housing. This could include assisting
with security deposits, credit problems, moving expenses, etc. If housing authorities have greater flexibility in using the HAP, it allows more ability to provide housing opportunities for low-income families.
Any unused Section 8 funds should be placed back in the program. Congress needs to exercise more care in deciding whether there should be further reductions in reserve accounts. NAHRO contends Congress needs to enact language codifying a reserve account for the program. Without a codified reserve, housing agencies will not know for certain whether there will be a buffer for rising market costs.
The second critical issue pertains to rescission. Dropping utilization rates are used to justify rescissions to the program. The FY 2002 appropriations bill rescinds $1.2 billion from unobligated balances remaining from funds appropriated to the HUD’s Annual Contributions for Assisted Housing or any other HUD account for fiscal year 2001 and prior years. HUD must meet the rescission by Sept. 30, 2002. The final bill includes language proposed by the House to prohibit the rescission of funds governed by statutory reallocation provisions, which is welcomed. However, there is a propensity to rescind Section 8 dollars at an alarming rate.
In the last several years, rescissions have been included in the VA, HUD appropriations bill in the neighborhood of $1 billion per year. At the same time, 4.9 million families with worst-case housing needs, a third of whom are on waiting lists and two-thirds who are not, spend more than half of their income on housing costs. Many families fortunate enough to reach the top of waiting lists still end up returning their vouchers after being unsuccessful in finding an affordable unit or a landlord willing to rent to a voucher holder. Utilization rates are of such a concern that HUD came up with a success rate payment standard a year ago, in recognition that few voucher holders could secure housing at the 40th percentile, even when LHAs were using their maximum allowable payment standard.
The tools needed to ensure that the voucher program ebbs and flows with the market simply do not exist in the program. However, housing agencies are held responsible for a family’s inability to find a unit. To add insult to injury, rather than recycling excess reserve funds throughout the year, HUD will begin to permanently reduce an LHA’s annual budget authority if it does not achieve a 95 percent leasing rate. The aforementioned statutory measures are critical for housing agencies to achieve some measure of ability to help poor people find decent housing.
The HUD budget must be increased in direct proportion to the need that exists in local communities. I appreciate and respect the fact that tough decisions needed to be made for the FY 2002 budget. I also appreciate the circumstances surrounding September 11 and how it has affected the priorities in Washington. However, as we approach the FY 2003 budget, we must be mindful of the fact that we are making great advances in the health of cities and improved housing quality. Yet, we have far to go in the area of affordability, which is why we need a commitment to these programs. The need for affordable housing grows every day. It is our hope that the FY 2003 budget will be an improvement on the FY 2002 and provide some response to the needs of our communities.
Yet as the nation is now three-quarters into a recession, it is important that the most vulnerable citizens - the homeless, disabled and seniors - are not forced to bear the burden of the need to pay for homeland security or nation-building abroad. Instead, this is a time to redouble our efforts to help people move from welfare to work and to ensure that our cities, our counties and our states are part of a concerted effort to stimulate the national economy. We have a huge investment in affordable housing and safe, viable communities across the country. We need not sacrifice their future in the FY 2003 budget debate. It is our hope that the FY 2003 budget will be an improvement on the FY 2002 and provide some response to the needs of our communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to address the committee today. I would be happy to respond to questions that you deem appropriate.
The following is a summary of programs that were highlighted in a NAHRO brochure on PHDEP extolling the benefits of the drug elimination grant program. The brochure was published in April.
Drug Elimination Committees
New York City Housing Authority, New York City, NY
To combat the twin problems of drug-abuse and drug-related crime, which affect the lives of its tenants, the New York City Housing Authority established Drug-Elimination Committees in 85 federally sponsored developments. Funded by HUD's Drug Elimination Program, Drug Elimination Committees are grass-roots coalitions of tenants, housing authority staff, law enforcement officials and community leaders who joined together to identify specific drug-elimination needs of each community where they operate. Drug Elimination Committees are the central local unit with responsibility for implementation of drug-prevention strategies.
The Sky’s The Limit School Incentive Program
Housing Authority of the City of Reno, Reno, Nev.
The School Incentive Program was created to help students strive for excellence and provide alternatives to gang and drug involvement. It is part of the housing authority’s Public Housing Drug Elimination Program (PHDEP). The program is tailored to each student. Students set their own goals for each grading period. Goals are set in academics, social citizenship and school attendance. When a child successfully attains his or her goal, a reward is presented in a ceremony at the monthly resident council meeting. Thirty-seven percent of the youth living in Reno public housing complexes participate.
Comprehensive Drug Elimination Program
Richmond Housing Authority, Richmond, Calif.
The Richmond Housing Authority, the Richmond Police Department, a resident management corporation, and two community-based agencies have developed an innovative drug elimination program. The program implements a nationally acknowledged innovative and effective school-based drug intervention model within a public housing community. The model comprises an intensive and interrelated set of services for youth and their parents, which include recreational and socialization services, family and individual counseling, parent support and advocacy, and education and environmental support for the public housing community. The program funds a Family Drug Counselor, a Family Services Counselor, and Recreation Counselors.
The RHA's major role has been to function as a facilitator to bring together the various agencies to develop a comprehensive drug elimination program. PHDEP provides $250,000. Additional local resources from the City and the Police Department valued over $500,000 have been committed to support the goals of the program.
Preserve Our Neighborhoods
Housing Authority of the City of Auburn, Auburn, Ala.
The Auburn Housing Authority developed "Preserve Our Neighborhoods" in response to the illegal drug activities that had been taking place in the city's public housing communities in recent years. The program is based on the principles of enforcement and legal actions against those involved in the illegal drug trade and was created through cooperative efforts between the housing authority, the City of Auburn, the Auburn Police Department and the Auburn Housing Authority Tenant Council. Two activities that have proven extremely successful are the Police Foot Patrols and "No Trespassing" letters. There has been a 42 percent decrease in drug-related activity since the program began 24 months ago. The City of Auburn pays for approximately one-third of this program.
Nueva Maravilla Drug Elimination Program
Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.
Residents living in Nueva Maravilla Housing Development located in East Los Angeles were exposed routinely to drug dealing, gang violence, and related criminal activity. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles put into effect a comprehensive Drug Elimination Program funded by HUD to address these problems. The major components of this program are the employment of narcotics and gang investigators, a multi-agency Anti-Drug Task Force, prevention and intervention programs, a family development program, and physical site security. Surveys performed at the inception of the program and a year later indicate that it has reduced the number of crimes, eased residents' fears, and improved the overall quality of life in the community. Funding was provided by PHDEP and was matched with funds from the housing authority.
Housing Authority of the City of Meriden, Meriden, Conn.
The Drug Elimination Program combats drugs and crime and provides Meriden Housing Authority’s (MHA) residents with the tools necessary to promote personal betterment and achieve self-sufficiency. While continuing to battle crime, MHA’s program has focused on Welfare-to-Work activities for adults. The housing authority’s efforts revolve around facilitating community collaboration in the program to the greatest extent possible. A variety
of funding sources were sought out and combined with community volunteers to increase and improve the scope of resident services. The program seeks to increase resident employability through computer-based training and job- placement assistance. Community agencies continue to support and strengthen MHA’s efforts to achieve its goals.
Combating Fear and Hopelessness
Meriden Housing Authority, Meriden, Conn.
The Meriden Housing Authority's Drug Elimination Program also was created to answer a need of public housing residents to feel safe in their own homes. Drug dealing, gang activity and shootings had produced a sense of fear and hopelessness among people living in Meriden's public housing developments. Foot patrols, educational and recreational programs, parent tutoring programs and a resource center have addressed the feeling of despair that had plagued the community. In place of these feelings are those of hope and increased opportunity. Over 25 arrests have taken place and public housing residents have stated that they perceive a reduction in crime.
Neighborhood Assistance Office
Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority, Springfield, Ohio
The drug problem at the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority had gotten out of control. The housing authority used capital improvement funding to hire off-duty Springfield city
police officers to assist in the eradication of crime from the area. Later, PHDEP grants gave the SMHA the opportunity to open the Neighborhood Assistance Office to provide additional support to the residents in the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority's successful battle to remedy the drug problem.
Accelerating Public Housing Drug Eradication
Paducah Housing Authority, Paducah, KY.
To control the influx of crack into the community, the Paducah Police Department and the Paducah Housing Authority accelerated its Public Housing Drug Eradication Program by focusing on taking marketing space away from drug dealers and their customers. In the spirit of community-oriented policing, this new approach goes beyond the criminal and involves direct contact with the public housing community. The creation of the Thomas Jefferson Police Substation within the public housing community has resulted in an increase in drug arrests and a decrease in drug-related activity. Funding came from PHDEP and the Paducah Police Department.
Community Policing Reduces Drug-Related Activity
Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake (HACSL) sponsors its Community Policing Program under the drug elimination program for nine public housing neighborhoods. Salt Lake
County Sheriff’s Department works closely with public housing and resident services staff to employ community police deputies. The deputies provide surveillance, conduct investigations, attend tenant meetings, meet monthly with staff from the program and HACSL housing managers, provide police reports about criminal activity, and keep program staff posted about new problems. The Community Policing Program has resulted in a reduction in drug activity, gang problems, vandalism and graffiti. These programs demonstrate that PHDEP is making a difference in many communities
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