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Houston Gets $40 million to Fight Crime

The after-effects of Hurricane Katrina are still felt by Houston-area residents, which is why the city is receiving $40 million dollars in federal grants. The money will go toward two Katrina-related initiatives. Houston Public Radio’s Laurie Johnson reports. Click to Listen Houston’s crime rate rose after thousands of Katrina evacuees came to the area. City […]

The after-effects of Hurricane Katrina are still felt by Houston-area residents, which is why the city is receiving $40 million dollars in federal grants. The money will go toward two Katrina-related initiatives. Houston Public Radio’s Laurie Johnson reports.

Click to Listen

Houston’s crime rate rose after thousands of Katrina evacuees came to the area. City officials say that’s natural when the population climbs so quickly, but the problem remains what to do about it. Half of the $40 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will go to the Houston Police Department. Mayor Bill White acknowledges this money isn’t a permanent solution to deficiencies in the police budget. He calls this a transitional measure.

“We think there’s 90-100,000 people living in our community that used to live in the devastated areas. If they want to live here and they’re able-bodied they need to get a job, and most have, and they contribute to our local economy and they help pay for law enforcement and other things. So there’s a good logical relationship between this temporary help.”

The other $20 million is designated for the city’s Apartments to Standards program, which provides money to renovate affordable housing and apartment units. The grant is specifically designated to address Hurricane Katrina-related issues. Council member Pam Holm says this kind of funding is important, but she wants to make sure the city remains focused on long-term solutions to public safety problems.

“Throwing money at a problem is not a solution. I want to know what the programs are and where they’re going to take us and what our needs are. And what I’ve asked from HPD at this point is to define the specific needs and how much money they need and then I am all there to approve it. But I don’t want to do it backwards and say here’s $53 million tell me as you go along what you’re going to spend it on.”

Holm says she’s concerned about the sustainability of public safety programs. But she adds, though this money shouldn’t be looked upon as a long-term fix, $40 million will go a long way to addressing crime problems in the city. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News. 

 

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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