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"More than a million children and 360,000 seniors live in public housing in the United States. They deserve to be as safe as the rest of us."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced the release by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the first-ever comprehensive analysis of gun-related violence in public housing. The report shows that, although crime has decreased in public housing since 1993, people who receive housing assistance are twice as likely to be victims of gun violence. To address this problem, the President called on Congress to make passage of stronger gun laws a top priority, and to enact his $280 million national gun enforcement initiative and HUD's $30 million gun violence reduction initiative.

A Historic Report on Gun Violence in Public Housing. More than 2.6 million residents live in public and assisted housing, including one million children and 360,000 elderly residents. Today's report, "In the Crossfire: The Impact of Gun Violence on Public Housing Communities," examines the scope and magnitude of gun-related violence in public housing, as well as the financial and social costs associated with gun violence. Based on newly available data from both HUD and the Justice Department, the report's key findings include:

  • The crime rate has fallen significantly in many public housing communities, consistent with national crime trends. Two-thirds of those analyzed had a reduction in their crime rate, and about half experienced a faster drop in their crime rate than their surrounding community.

  • Persons receiving housing assistance are more than twice as likely to be victims of gun violence. In spite of the lower crime rates, nearly one person a day is killed by gunfire in the nation's 100 largest public housing communities.

  • Gun violence poses a threat to public housing residents in cities of all sizes, with the highest gun violence rates for those in mid-sized metropolitan areas.

  • Public housing authorities have spent over $4 billion on crime reduction and prevention efforts since 1990. By 1998, annual housing authority expenditures for safety and security measures, including additional police officers, tenant patrols, fencing, lighting, and security cameras, had grown to over $500 million per year.

Working to Reduce Gun Violence in Public Housing. To address the problem of gun violence in our nation's public housing and communities, the President's FY 2001 budget includes a $30 million Community Gun Safety and Violence Reduction Initiative. This HUD initiative will fund:

  • improved local crime analysis to enable local responses targeted to at-risk areas;
  • education and outreach initiatives to inform the public of the risks posed by firearms; and
  • innovative, performance-based local crime reduction and prevention strategies.

Highlighting Measures to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands. The President highlighted measures to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, including:

  • his proposal to create a state-based licensing system for handgun purchasers to ensure that all buyers have passed a background check and know how to safely handle and store their gun;
  • urging Congress to pass common-sense gun legislation that closes the gun show loophole, bans the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, and requires child safety locks for handguns; and
  • calling on Congress to enact his unprecedented $280 million gun enforcement initiative to hire 500 new ATF agents and inspectors, over 1,000 new federal, state and local gun prosecutors, and fund comprehensive crime gun tracing and increased ballistics testing to catch and prosecute more gun criminals.

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