Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $1,378,412)
The Recovery Act Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program (Byrne Competitive Program) will help communities improve the capacity of state and local justice systems and provide for national support efforts including training and technical assistance programs strategically targeted to address local needs. This competitive grant announcement focuses on initiatives in eight areas: 1) preventing and reducing violent crime through community-based data-driven approaches; 2) providing funding for neighborhood-based probation and parole officers; 3) reducing mortgage fraud and crime related to vacant properties; 4) hiring of civilian support personnel in law enforcement (training staff, analysts, dispatchers, etc.); 5) enhancing forensic and crime scene investigations; 6) improving resources and services for victims of crime; 7) supporting problem-solving courts; and 8) national training and technical assistance partnerships.
Under category 3, the Housing Preservation Project will use the grant award to: enhance the use of technology in identifying mortgage fraud and using computer-generated mapping programs to identify patterns of foreclosure, vacancies, and related criminal activity in Hennepin County; assist prosecutors in targeting resources and efficiently investigate crime; and support further sharing of mortgage fraud, foreclosure, vacancy, and crime data among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies as well as partner neighborhood organizations and community-based housing assistance providers. The Housing Preservation Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation and public interest law firm that has partnered with Hennepin County to provide technical expertise in analyzing mortgage transactions, identifying fraud or suspicious conduct, and assisting with criminal prosecutions. The Project will also coordinate with the Minnesota Foreclosure Partner's Council, an inter-governmental task force. The grant will fund hiring of two prosecutors, a paralegal, a computer programmer, and a contract investigator, as well as retaining an outside special counsel position. The project will create a data tracking model and response system that can be replicated throughout the state.