NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Justice is tapping the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help attack crime hotspots in 15 cities nationwide as part of a sweeping effort to improve the quality of life in troubled communities.
LISC was awarded $1 million to guide the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI), bringing law enforcement, civic and economic leaders to the table with the neighbors themselves with the goal of making streets safe so business can grow.
"People cannot live well—they can't prosper—if their neighborhoods are dangerous and crumbling," said Julia Ryan, director of LISC's Community Safety Initiative, a nearly 20-year effort to connect improvements in safety to the overall health of neighborhoods.
"We have to tackle it as part of a comprehensive program that focuses on helping residents define what they want their community to be and then tap the neighborhood and institutional resources to make it happen."
LISC's grant was part of $11 million in BCJI funds awarded to help lift up cities from Chula Vista, Ca., to Buffalo, N.Y.—in part by making their streets safer. As the national technical assistance provider, LISC's role is to help local neighborhoods across the country implement the strategy. The impact the grants can have on everyday life in troubled areas stands to be substantial, Ryan said.
"Many people surrounded by crime and violence live with a kind PTSD," she explained. "Persistent crime breeds relentless fear. It cripples local businesses and schools. It threatens homes and jobs, and compromises people's health everyday. We can't 'arrest' our way out of this."
LISC's approach brings community, business and development leaders together with local law enforcement to think and act strategically about crime, Ryan said. The LISC model has been endorsed by more than 30 police chiefs for its success in making more effective and efficient use of law enforcement resources.
"These partners work on safe housing and youth programs. They integrate programs on storefront revitalization and park clean-ups. They consider larger issues of quality of life," Ryan said. "Taken together, these efforts drive down crime and drive up local confidence so that private investment returns to troubled places."
The BCJI Program is a part of the Obama Administration's larger Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which brings together the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Treasury to align federal programs focused on neighborhood revitalization and to implement pilot programs between agencies.
As part of its work, LISC will explore with the Justice Department ways to make sure local and federal efforts stay on the same page—so that on-the-ground strategies comport with larger federal goals.
The new BCJI grant program will fund collaborative initiatives through the following: Institute for Public Strategies, Chula Vista, Calif.; City of Lowell, Mass.; City of Baltimore, Md.; Detroit Crime Commission, City of Detroit, Mich.; City of Omaha, Neb.; Center for Court Innovation, New York, N.Y.; Westminister Foundation, NY, Buffalo, N.Y.; East End Community Services Corp., Dayton, Ohio; Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, Portland, Ore.; Mt. Vernon Manor, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.; City of Austin, Texas; Housing Authority of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas; City of Seattle, Wash.; City of Milwaukee, Wis.; and City of Charleston, West Va.
LISC operates local programs in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo, Seattle and New York City, as well as in San Diego and Boston, near other Byrne grantees.
Information about the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program is available at www.bja.gov/. For more about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, go to www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/nri_description.pdf.
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $12 billion to build or rehab 289,000 affordable homes and develop 46 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. Since 1994, LISC support has leveraged nearly $40 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit www.lisc.org.
About LISC Community Safety Initiative
LISC's Community Safety Initiative (CSI) helps local police and community partners achieve marked improvements in safety, economic vitality, and neighborhood health. CSI has spurred double-digit reductions in crime in neighborhoods across the country, paving the way for more than $265 million in real estate development in neighborhoods where crime previously deterred investment. For more, visit www.lisc.org/csi.
Julia Ryan, LISC Community Safety Initiative
212-455-1618 or Jryan@lisc.org
SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation