City housing authority to receive $4.3 million Funds part of $5.4 million in federal grants to Md.

November 08, 1997|By Eric Lekus | Eric Lekus,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

WASHINGTON -- Baltimore's public housing authority will receive about $4.3 million over the next two years to help pay for more police patrols and drug treatment as part of federal money being granted to communities around the country, Clinton administration officials announced yesterday.

Baltimore's is the largest share of the $5.4 million in grants awarded in Maryland.

The other recipients are housing agencies in Baltimore County, Annapolis, Cumberland, Havre de Grace, Kensington and Lanham.

Nationwide, nearly 700 public and private housing agencies will receive a total of $217 million in grants, officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said at a news conference yesterday.

The grants -- for which communities had to apply, citing needs -- will pay for the hiring of more police officers, better lighting, job placement and other services.

"It funds both sides of the equation," HUD Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo said at the news conference, joined by Vice President Al Gore and Barry R. McCaffrey, the administration's drug czar. "Yes, more police, yes, more hard enforcement, but also more hope and help and alternatives for our young people."

About 50,000 people live in Baltimore's public housing, the nation's fifth-largest system. Since 1989, the housing authority has received several federal anti-drug grants, though its application last year was rejected.

Hezekiah Bunch, chief of Baltimore's housing police, attributed the city's successful application this year largely to its heightened concentration on drug treatment.

Baltimore's grant will pay for new programs and to maintain existing ones. Sixteen drug abuse counselors will continue to receive funding, 12 more police officers will be hired, and police cruisers, bicycles and a community policing van will be bought. In addition, 400 more residents will be able to receive drug treatment, and six youth centers will receive continued funding.

"Our intent is to take a coordinated approach to dealing with drugs and drug prevention," said Eric C. Brown, deputy director of the housing authority.

"We try to look at it from a very holistic approach, dealing with the law enforcement, dealing with treatment and intervention, and also recognizing that youth are important, so there's the Boys and Girls Club," Brown said. "This [grant] builds on the successes we've had."

The Baltimore County recipient is Kingsley Park Apartments in Essex, which will use its $124,000 grant to expand a community center, hire more drug prevention staff and operate a van that will make social and educational services more accessible.

The goal, according to Jennifer Feit, a resident services coordinator, is to help single mothers -- who make up most of the 1,000 residents -- get back to work.

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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