Thursday, July 04, 2002

CMHA fights for funds

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's public housing agency is fighting to restore the federal grant money that pays for thousands of hours of extra security every month at public complexes.

[photo] Cincinnati Police Sgt. Michael Fern, neighborhood unit supervisor for District 3, talks with Darius Clay, 10, Wednesday at Millvale Community Center.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        For more than a decade, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority has received Drug Elimination Program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The latest amount, in September, was $1.6 million.

        It's used to pay Cincinnati police officers to do overtime patrols for more than 1,000 hours every month — the single most important factor in reducing CMHA crime, said Donald Troendle, the agency's executive director. The program also pays for after-school centers.

        But Congress is phasing out the program, leaving CMHA and other housing authorities looking for new ways to fight crime at a time when violence is escalating.

        “Ninety-nine percent of our residents are good people,” said Jennifer Schaefer, CMHA spokeswoman. “They're working families, they're seniors. They deserve to live in a safe environment.”

        The money helped pay for a bust Tuesday in Mount Washington at Beacon Glen apartments, where neighbors had complained about drug dealing. Violent
Crimes Squad officers arrested four people they said sold undercover officers crack over the past month and two others wanted for other offenses. signed warrants on at least five others. they were still looking for as of Wednesday night.

        CMHA is hiring fewer officers than it used to, and officials locally and with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment are lobbying to restore the program.


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