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Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

DOJ Releases Byrne Application

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that is opened the application process for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. As part of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, this fund is designed to support “community-oriented strategies to address neighborhood-level crime issues.” The application is available online here and due June 7.

The Department is offering two types of funding for the program:

  • Category 1: Planning and implementation grants worth up to $1 million each for a 36-month project period.
  • Category 2: Enhancement grants intended to enhance an existing community-based initiative and worth up to $600,000 for a 36-month project period.

The application suggests CrimeSolutions.gov as a resources for applicants on evidence-based approaches to this work, and also lists the Building Neighborhood Capacity Resource Center, which will go live in August. For more information, see the Grants.gov program page.

Postscript: Speaking of federal NRI work, look out for registration and updated program information for UNCA’s Neighborhood Revitalization Conference next week.

Neighborhood Revitalization in the President’s Budget

With this month’s transition we haven’t had the opportunity to address President’s Obama’s FY 2013 budget, which was released on February 13th.

The budget proposes $100 million for Promise Neighborhoods, $150 million for Choice Neighborhoods, and $20 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program for the federal fiscal year that begins October 1, 2012.

According to the Administration’s release, “The Budget reflects an integrated and performance-driven approach to distressed urban neighborhoods, where the challenges tied to jobs, education, public safety, and other needs intersect and compound each other.”

Here are some relevant highlights from the release:

Promise Neighborhoods: The Budget includes $100 million of dedicated support for Promise Neighborhoods, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to improve college going rates by combining a rigorous K-12 education with a continuum of effective family and community services in an entire neighborhood. This initiative would support comprehensive programs that address the needs of children and youth in a targeted area from before they are born until they attend college.

Choice Neighborhoods: The Budget provides $150 million for the Choice Neighborhoods initiative to continue transformative investments in high-poverty neighborhoods where distressed HUD-assisted public and privately owned housing is located, a $30 million increase from 2012 enacted level. The Budget will reach 4 to 6 neighborhoods with grants that primarily fund the preservation, rehabilitation and transformation of HUD-assisted public and privately-owned multifamily housing, and will also engage local governments, nonprofits, and for-profit developers in partnerships to improve surrounding communities.

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program: The Budget provides $20 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which supports the Administration’s multi-agency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative by directing resources where they are needed in higher-risk neighborhoods, integrating public safety, housing services, and other investments.

Congress Funds New Neighborhood Revitalization Program at DOJ

Congress has funded the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, the principal Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative program in the Department of Justice, comparable to Promise and Choice Neighborhoods. The funding was provided in the same "minibus" budget bill (HR 2112) that provided $120 million for Choice Neighborhoods.

Congress provided $15 million for the new program for the current fiscal year (FY 2012), which runs from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. The program replaces the Weed and Seed program, which was defunded in FY 2011. (See this Department of Justice FAQ document for information on how Weed and Seed was closed down. Its parent office was closed on June 5.)

Funding for the new program is higher than funding was for Promise Neighborhoods during its first year (that was $10 million), though lower than the $20 million last appropriated for Weed and Seed.

So what will the new program look like? We don't yet know (and will ask DOJ), but for now the best information appears to be in the Department's budget request submitted to Congress early this year. According to those budget justifications:

Building on concepts employed in the Weed and Seed Program, this new program will support the Administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative ... by providing demonstration grants in selected communities to support innovative, place-based, evidence-based approaches to fighting crime and improving public safety.  The program will be coordinated with the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, among other agencies, in support of the Administration’s continued support for cost-effective, place-based policy solutions.

It is, therefore, anticipated that  replacing Weed and Seed with the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovations Program will allow for numerous program improvements and efficiencies by:

  • Promoting and improving collaboration with other federal agencies;
  • Increasing flexibility of program and funding requirements to support federal and local collaborations;
  • Encouraging a renewed emphasis on evidence-based and/or data supported approaches;
  • Promoting long-term sustainability of program outcomes through strategic planning, training and technical assistance; and
  • Using multi-disciplinary, community-based partnerships to improve public safety support at the federal, state, local and tribal levels.

More information about the predecessor program, Weed and Seed, can be found in the Weed and Seed Data Center.

$30 Million for Promise Neighborhoods

Details of the budget deal just struck in Congress for the rest of the year are now trickling out. The measure includes $30 million for Promise Neighborhoods, an amount available through December 31, 2011. This would appear to provide enough funds for implementation grants and a second round of planning grants later this year. The official grant notice was expected within 60 days, though this timeline might conceivably be adjusted.

No further negotiating is expected. This is expected to be the final number for the year. Congress is expected to enact the underlying bill, HR 1473, by the end of this week.

My best guess is that the $30 million will include $10 million for another round of about 20 planning grants, $18 million or so for six 3-year implementation grants worth $3 million each, and about $2 million for technical assistance and the national program evaluation. That's complete speculation based on what was in the budget justifications earlier this year. We'll see.

It is not yet clear what the status is for Choice Neighborhoods and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. HOPE VI was cut from $200 million to $100 million. The Weed and Seed program at DOJ, which was to be replaced by Byrne, was eliminated.

The position of urban affairs policy czar at the White House Office of Urban Affairs was eliminated. It has been vacant since Adolfo Carrion left for a position at HUD last year.

Postscript: Stay tuned for additional announcements on the NRI Conference in Washington DC, July 21-22.

HCZ Confronts Harlem Gangs

The Harlem Children's Zone has established a team of street monitors, called "Safety Knights," to protect students who are walking home from their afterschool programs from neighborhood gangs. The Knights have been deployed along a 10-block stretch, from 125th to 135th Streets, according to a news story in the New York Daily News.

"We've had an explosion of gang activity," Canada told the Daily News. "Kids, for their own protection, can't walk through certain areas, and it means that you're almost forced to join one of these neighborhood groups, which is a horrible thing."

The Knights are easy to spot between 125th and 135th Sts. They wear orange vests, communicate using walkie-talkies and sit bright lanterns on the sidewalk for when it gets dark outside.

When the Knights aren't standing at their assigned spots, they are working at HCZ programs as tutors, security guards or administrative staff members. Some are familiar faces for the kids who pass through the zone.

While gangs terrorize the streets, Canada doesn't deny some are right under his nose.

"There are kids in our school who are in gangs," he said, noting that some of the gangbangers are A students.

"What kind of crazy world do we live in when you get 95 on your geometry Regents, and yet you belong to a gang?" he said. "That's because all the kids feel like they have to."

Addressing the issue has not been easy.

The initiative was put to the test the day it started, when a group attempted to attack a student playing basketball in a park along the corridor.

More recently, two people were also shot along the corridor, just 20 minutes after the Safety Knights left.

But the Knights are continuing to protect children, refusing to lose the struggle over the streets.

"The day you don't come back," said Canada, "[the gangs] think they won."

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by Dr. Radut