Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $528,041)
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced funding over the next several years for its nationwide Project Safe Neighborhood Program. Project Safe Neighborhood (“PSN”) comprises five key components—Leadership, Partnership, Targeted Enforcement, Prevention and Accountability. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas will make grants to those agencies and organizations that serve these pillars of the PSN Program. The PSN Program, led by the U.S. Attorney and local law enforcement and community partners, will develop and implement policies aimed at the reduction of violent crime, on a short-term and long-term basis, in a targeted area. Based on this strategy, a PSN task force of interested stakeholders will divide funds between enhanced law enforcement, community prevention, deterrence, and re-entry efforts. Grant fund recipients will be monitored to ensure positive results in the community and associated reduction in violent crime.
Within the Southern District of Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will join forces with the Texas Anti-Gang Center, Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, respective county district attorney’s offices, federal law enforcement partners, and the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office to target violent crime reduction in Southeast Houston.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with law enforcement and community partners, chose Southeast Houston as the location to direct these funds based on rising gun and gang violence. Crime in this area, including murders, aggravated assaults and robberies, has continued to rise. Specifically, from 2020 to 2021, Houston has seen a 30% increase in homicides over this time from the previous year and a 73% increase over this time in 2019. Additionally, charges of aggravated assaults increased over 50% from 2019 to 2020. This rise in violent crime stems largely from gang membership, lack of employment and educational opportunities, and poverty, which PSN seeks to address.
The PSN grant will be distributed through the Office of the Governor-Public Safety Office, after a competitive process, to recipients that have devised programs, strategies, or projects that are aimed at making a positive impact and reducing violent crime in Southeast Houston and Northwest Harris County. These particular programs can include, but are not limited to, research and crime analysis, law enforcement efforts, prevention programs for at-risk youth and adults, gang intervention, community-law enforcement relations, and offender re-entry.