In two new HotSpot grants announced yesterday, Brooklyn Heights will receive $123,000 in state funds next year to fight crime and get tough on absentee landlords with shabby homes, and Parole will get $105,700 to boost the Neighborhood Watch program and help clean the community's streets.
The awards are among 36 grants announced by the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention. The $6.3 million statewide expansion of the program adds 26 communities and expands the boundaries of six others. The program uses a combination of crime-prevention efforts, beefing up community policing and local prosecution, and supporting youth programs and neighborhood efforts to unify.
The two new grants in Anne Arundel County bring the number of HotSpot communities to four. Orchards on the Severn on Pioneer Drive and Eastport Terrace in Annapolis were already part of the program. The annual grants are renewable for four years.
In Brooklyn Heights, an older community south of Baltimore and east of Ritchie Highway, the money will go largely to police overtime for increased foot patrols in the neighborhood, and to after-school programs.
The Health Department will get a sizable grant to pay for a part-time counselor for people with addictions, and the YWCA's domestic violence program will be funded to provide education and awareness programs and group counseling to residents.
"It's a comprehensive sweep through the area; it's not piecemeal," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Democrat who represents the area. "If there's a community that needs it, they need it."
Many houses in Brooklyn Heights were built after World War II for veterans who returned from the war and took up work in Baltimore's thriving factories, said resident Amelia Collins, treasurer of the Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association.
After many homeowners retired or died, absentee landlords took over the properties, bringing in transient tenants -- some of whom stay only a few months before moving, Collins said.
"Crime has increased, trash is a problem," she said. "A transient population does not make for a stable community."
Residents hope the HotSpot money will be the boost government needs to be more aggressive in addressing problems. About $14,000 will pay for zoning and sanitation inspectors to scrutinize the aging homes and get tough on absentee landlords who aren't taking care of them.
"There's constant concerns about crime and drugs, and there are a lot of people who've lived there a long time who aren't willing to abandon their community," Jimeno said. "I think this will give them a degree of hope."
On the other grant, although Parole, a community outside the Annapolis city line, has been awarded $105,700, the state is expected to provide more money as it adjusts coordination of Parole's program with one in Eastport Terrace, state officials said.
The Parole plan will boost youth activities with after-school programs focusing on tutoring, conflict resolution and recreation. Support for the community through Neighborhood Watch programs and cleanups is also key to the plan.
Police will get a hefty portion of the grant to pay for increased foot patrols and undercover work, and nearly $22,000 will help at-risk youths with support programs.