HUD pours $7.3 million in grants into Md. Funds earmarked to fight drugs in public housing

October 27, 1998|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

An array of local Democrats gathered at the new Pleasant View Gardens public housing complex on Asquith Street in Baltimore yesterday morning to announce a $7.3 million federal grant aimed at eradicating drug abuse and drug-related crime in subsidized housing around the state.

The money -- most of which is earmarked for neighborhoods in Baltimore -- will be used for a variety of programs, from treatment for substance abuse to increased community policing.

Other recipients include housing authorities in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Cumberland, Frederick, Hagerstown, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Rockville and St. Michaels. "I'm pleased that the federal government would recognize the need for a balanced approach to substance abuse -- law enforcement, health and prevention," said Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who praised the grant as the kind of help that comes from having an urban-friendly administration in Washington.

Schmoke accepted a $4,320,206 "drug elimination" check from U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Elinor Bacon, who oversees the redevelopment of the nation's public housing projects. Another $500,000 will go to privately owned housing projects in Baltimore that receive HUD assistance.

Quoting her boss, HUD Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, Bacon said: "We are telling drug dealers in HUD housing to find another line of work or be sent to another type of subsidized housing -- a prison cell."

With Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on the panel, the announcement at times took on the tone of a political rally. Her running mate, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, is in a close race against Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

"These grants show a deep commitment to helping families fight the plagues of violence and addiction," said Townsend, flanked by U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. "We believe that if we don't supervise the kids, the drug dealers will."

(In a separate announcement scheduled for today,Glendening is expected to publicize $2.2 million in state grants to police departments, probation officers and prosecutors aimed at accelerating the state's recent drops in juvenile crime.)

In Baltimore, the bulk of the HUD money will be spent on a multipronged approach to fighting drugs and despair in the deteriorating communities of Westport and Mount Winans. There are 432 public housing units in Westport and 147 in nearby Mount Winans.

Thelma Millard, director of family and support services for the Housing Authority of Baltimore, said nearly $400,000 of the money will toward renovating a long-closed elementary school at 2401 Harmon Ave. in Westport. It would house a recreation center, a computer learning lab, a job training and employment center and drug treatment programs. A new day care center and a police substation would be added to the area.

A total of 14 housing authority police officers will be hired with the grant money, for which the city must account over the next 18 months. Other neighborhoods receiving money for drug treatment include Cherry Hill, Claremont Homes and O'Donnell Heights.

According to Carl H. Fleet, a retired electrician who has spent all 71 of his years in Mount Winans, it shouldn't be hard to find good use for the money in the Southern Baltimore neighborhoods.

"It has really gotten worse. When I came along, all these drugs and homeless wasn't around," said Fleet. "I live on the Mount Winans side, but I can look right across the street to the projects in Westport and see them dealing drugs all day and all night long."

HUD grants

Maryland jurisdictions awarded federal grants to be distributed to housing authorities and owners of federally subsidized housing:

Annapolis .. .. .. .. .. $548,646

Anne Arundel Co. . .. .. $306,300

Baltimore .. ... .. .. $4,820,206

Cumberland .. . .. .. .. $128,700

Frederick .. .. .. .. .. $366,400

Hagerstown .. .. .. .. . $354,000

Montgomery Co. .. .. ... $391,300

Prince George's Co. .. . $171,900

Rockville .. .. .. .. .. $135,200

St. Michaels .. .. .. .. $100,000

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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