Source: San Francisco Examiner 6/6/97
Contact: 		U.S. expands war against public housing drug dealers
By Dan Freedman

WASHINGTON  The Clinton administration has announced expansion of its
crusade against crime and drugs in the nation's embattled public housing
projects, adding seven more cities to a list that includes San

	"Make no mistake about it, in public housing, drugs are public enemy
No.1," Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo said Thursday at a White House
ceremony attended by public housing tenants, federal officials and law
enforcement officers from across the nation. "There is no greater
service, no greater improvement we can make to this nation's public
housing than the elimination of drugs."

	Crime nationwide has gone down five years in a row, with the latest
yearly drop of 7 percent announced by the FBI just last weekend. Still,
the nation's 14,000 public housing projects, which are home to 1.8
million families, are plagued by drug gangs and gun violence.

	"People are fed up with it," said Vice President Al Gore. "They're sick
and tired of it, and they want something done about it. And that's why we
are here today."

	Attorney General Janet Reno hailed the progress of San Francisco and
five other cities  Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and
Washington  in fighting drug crime through the administration's
"priority city initiative," a concentrated effort to fight drugs.

	Begun in April 1996, that program brought together task forces of
federal agents, local police and public housing officials to fight drug
gangs in the public housing units those cities. The gangs had terrorized
tenants and turned many of the projects into virtual war zones.

	Police in San Francisco, for instance, have made 200 felony arrests for
crimes on public housing property, Reno said. "We're beginning to see
improvements in the quality of life for public housing residents," Iteno
said. "Slowly but surely, we're reclaiming communities for the
lawabiding citizens who want a safe, healthy place to call home."

	Added to the list of six cities receiving special attention are Atlanta,
Boston, Memphis, Gary, md.; Greensboro, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; and
Newark, N.J.

In addition to fighting crime, the effort involves eliminating graffiti,
picking up trash, repairing and painting units and fixing broken locks.
"Just saying 'no' isn't enough unless there's something to say 'yes' to,"
Cuomo said.

	HUD is awarding $250 million in grants for extra security guards and
investigators, reimbursement to local police forces, tenant patrols, and
drug treatment and prevention.

	Next year's budget includes $20 million for "Operation Safe Home," a
3years old program aimed at boosting the police task forces in public
housing. Under this program, teams of law enforcement officers have
seized $22 million in drugs, 1,600 weapons and served more than 1,450
search warrants, according to HUD figures.

Joyce Armstrong, a property manager trainee at the Potrero Hill project
in San Francisco, said she was impressed by the administration's
commitment to fight crime in public housing at the same time it helped
tenants restore properties.

	Conditions in the Potrero Hill project have improved markedly in the
past two years, Armstrong said. Tenants are "out there like worker bees,"
fixing up homes, landscaping and removing toxic substances such as paint
with lead in it. "This is all very new, but you can see the 

	Rep. Rick Lazio, RN.Y., chairman of the House banking subcommittee on
housing and community opportunity, praised the administration for
"refocusing national attention" on crime in public housing.

	Lazio and the White House have done battle over Lazio's public housing
bill, which would raise the number of working poor in projects to balance
out public housing's traditional tenant population: the very poor.

	Cuomo has said the bill would hurt the very poor, who have few housing
alternatives. Last month, after the House approved Lazio's bill, Cuomo
hinted President Clinton might veto it. A similar measure is to be
considered in the Senate.