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Justice Department calls on LISC to help attack crime hotspots in low-income communities

September 12, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (September 12, 2013)—The U.S. Department of Justice has again tapped the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help troubled neighborhoods become safer places to live as part of the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program, an Obama Administration effort to address crime hotspots in persistently distressed areas.

Denise O’Donnell, director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), today announced that 14 communities from California to Rhode Island are being awarded $12.4 million in this second year of BCJI grants.  The announcement was part of an event at Drexel University, where LISC and BJA brought together 2012 grantees along with Kevin J. Bethel, Philadelphia’s deputy police commissioner, and Robert K. Reed, assistant U.S. Attorney, for a two-day meeting on best practices.

The new BCJI grants include $1.5 million for LISC to support the 2013 grantees work.  LISC was also chosen last year to help support the program.

“We think of safety as a cornerstone of any effort to make a community a place that people are proud to call home,” said Julia Ryan, director of LISC’s Community Safety Initiative, a nationally recognized program to build bridges between crime reduction and broader community revitalization efforts.

“That’s how the Justice Department views the BCJI program as well,” she said.  “To really make our streets safer in the long run, we can’t treat crime as an isolated problem.  It is part of the larger picture of what’s happening within a community and requires multiple parties working together to have an impact. These grants respond to that reality.”

LISC provides technical assistance through BCJI and other White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative programs to more than 30 communities, helping them examine what drives crime in their neighborhoods and set strategies to address it.  Local partners draw heavily on resident input as they coordinate law enforcement with neighborhood development strategies that have proven effective elsewhere.

To see the program in action, the Justice Department pointed to the Mantua neighborhood in West Philadelphia, adjacent to the Drexel campus.  There, non-profit developer Mount Vernon Manor and We Are Mantua, a community-based organization, have teamed up with LISC, Drexel and others to change the outlook for their community—in part with a 2012 BCJI grant as well as a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant.   Choice Neighborhoods is a federal program focused on revitalizing aging public housing projects and their surrounding neighborhoods.

The Mantua team has finalized its research and planning process and is now moving forward with a plan to address youth violence and other crime, while also rebuilding housing and removing blight.

“Programs like BCJI give communities the resources and tools they need to address crime comprehensively and sustainably, in partnership with community-based nonprofits, local police departments, and businesses,” said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of LISC Philadelphia, which has been working extensively in Mantua to raise standards of living. “Change is happening in Mantua,” he said. “It’s happening because of the passion and patience of committed neighbors and local organizations. With BCJI, Mantua has a chance to tackle crime as part of a broader revitalization strategy, driven by the folks who live here.”

The 2013 BCJI grantees include a number of communities where LISC is already deeply engaged in community safety work.  Grantees are:  City of Corning, Calif.; San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; Youth Policy Institute, Los Angeles; Georgia Department of Public Health, Atlanta; City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, La.; City of Springfield, Mass.; Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, Mo.; Fund for the City of New York, Syracuse; City of Cleveland, Ohio; Martha O’Bryan Center, Inc. Nashville; ECHO Housing Corporation, Evansville, Ind.; City of Erie, Pa.; Housing Authority of the City of Tampa, Fla.; Olneyville Housing Corporation, Providence, R.I.

Ryan stressed the importance of strong partners in the success of efforts in these communities, as well as others focused on making their streets safer. “To really make a difference, you need a local network that includes nonprofits, law enforcement, business leaders, policymakers, university officials, philanthropic groups and others that have a stake in the future of the neighborhood and have a willingness to roll up their sleeves and take on tough problems.  That’s when we can really bring together lasting change.”

About LISC

LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has invested $12.9 billion to build or rehab 298,300 affordable homes and apartments and develop 49 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit


About LISC Community Safety Initiative

LISC’s Community Safety Initiative (CSI) helps local police and community partners achieve marked improvements in safety, economic vitality, and neighborhood health. CSI has spurred double-digit reductions in crime in neighborhoods across the country, paving the way for more than $265 million in real estate development in neighborhoods where crime previously deterred investment. For more, visit


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