The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a five-year grant totaling more than $2 million to Garden Grove, earmarked for rent subsidies in the blighted Buena Clinton neighborhood, city and federal officials confirmed Saturday.
A news conference has been scheduled for Monday morning, where the award will be formally announced by Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove).
Buena Clinton, a 39-acre area fronting 17th Street between Buena and Clinton streets that is home to about 6,000 people, most of whom are poor and Latino, has one of the highest crime rates in the county. So far in 1985, at least half a dozen Buena Clinton apartment owners have been cited for failing to maintain their rental units, many of which are overcrowded.
The grant, part of Garden Grove's Project Self-Sufficiency, provides for subsidies of up to 70% of the rent of qualified tenants. In return for reduced rents, tenants must agree to strictly limit the numbers of residents per unit. Also, the tenants participate in various local projects aimed at achieving financial self-sufficiency.
Nearly half a million dollars in housing certificates and vouchers will be made available the first year, with the remainder being awarded in the following four years.
In 1984, Garden Grove received $12.5 million in state and federal funds for use in reviving the Buena Clinton neighborhood.
City and federal officials lauded the grant and shared credit with all involved.
"The entire city of Garden Grove has a commitment to Buena Clinton," said Milton Krieger, a City Council member. "This (effort) couldn't possibly have worked without everyone pushing together," he said, adding that the entire City Council and staff had supported the grant application. The HUD staff had also done "yeoman work," he said.
"Finally we have a strategy for Buena Clinton," Krieger said.
Dornan, appearing as grand marshal of Garden Grove's Korean festival and parade on Saturday, said that his letter to HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce supporting the funding proposal was signed by all four members of the Orange County congressional delegation. "It was very unselfish of them," Dornan said, in light of the strong competition for federal dollars among congressional districts.
In the letter to Pierce, the four congressmen said that Buena Clinton residents "are surrounded by prospering neighborhoods and want to halt the urban deterioration that has plagued their community for so many years."
Dornan on Saturday called Buena Clinton "the most depressed, crime-ridden area in the county," a particularly stark situation because "Orange County is so uniformly beautiful." The HUD grant was "not enough," he said, "but it's a good, healthy start."
Although the neighborhood has been "a perplexing situation for the past decade," Dornan said, "there's no reason we can't turn it around and make it a proud neighborhood."
Various approaches to dealing with the seemingly intractable problems of Buena Clinton have been suggested over the years, from having the area annexed by the larger city of Santa Ana to changing the neighborhood's name.
In addition to housing and rental grants, Krieger said, a major goal for reviving the area is to open up a factory nearby, since "jobs are an essential part of building self-esteem."