The Wilmington Housing Authority is narrowing its focus when it comes to revitalizing the Southside neighborhood between Castle and Martin Streets. This comprehensive initiative to attract mixed-income residents, municipal services, and resources such as educational and athletic facilities would be far more feasible with help from a ninety-million-dollar grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. But it’s unlikely any of these improvements could logically come to fruition until the Authority can address safety and crime on the Southside.
It’s why the Housing Authority has decided to compete for another award—the Byrne Criminal Justice grant--before submitting their application to HUD. Housing Authority planner Paul D’Angelo explains that this would give Wilmington up to a million dollars over a three-year period to tackle poverty, crime, and gang violence.
"No matter how strong our grant that we turn in would be when it comes to rebuilding housing and taking advantage of these vacant lots and improving the infrastructure in the community—if at the end of the day, there’s no difference in the crime in that neighborhood, our efforts aren’t gonna make too much of a difference."
Although the Authority unsuccessfully applied for the Byrne grant last year, D’Angelo says he’s confident that this year’s data will more clearly illustrate Wilmington’s safety needs.
"Now that the number one Star-News story is gang violence, there’s been an uptick in violent crime in hot spots in the city, as well as the aspect of the third part of that, which is the poverty that’s come out, the distressed neighborhoods. So I think that the data unfortunately that’s come out in 2013 in the city of Wilmington will actually help our grant opportunities. We have the same problems that big cities do."
The application is due May sixth, and the money would likely come Wilmington’s way in August. D’Angelo says the Housing Authority’s first priority would be hiring a second safety coordinator, and then procuring better police equipment.