City and state officials in Garden Grove said they hope a five-year grant totaling more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help improve the poverty-stricken Buena Clinton neighborhood, an area called Orange County's worst slum.
Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), who city officials said was instrumental in obtaining the grant, formally announced the award on Monday. "It's a community pride thing in which I want to see this (area) fixed up," he said.
The grant will total more than $437,000 during the first year and will be used for rent subsidies for tenants and for an overall improvement of the area, said Michael Fenderson, assistant city manager and acting director of the city's Housing and Neighborhood Development Department. Money will be awarded to qualified tenants based on income level.
Duncan Howard, western regional administrator for HUD, said the rent subsidies, administered through the city's housing authority, will be available to tenants whose incomes fall below 50% of the median income of the area, which is about $28,000.
Buena Clinton, a crime-ridden neighborhood fronting Westminster Avenue between Buena and Clinton streets, has about 6,000 residents--most of whom are poor and Latino--living in about 140 apartment units. About a half dozen Buena Clinton apartment owners have been cited for substandard structures this year.
Garden Grove Mayor Jonathan Cannon said city officials will continue law-enforcement efforts to eliminate slumlord practices in the area, adding that the grant subsidies also will provide affordable, single-family apartment units. He said some of the apartments now house as many as 15 people.
Canon said the HUD grant, part of Garden Grove's Project Self-Sufficiency, is limited to five years. "We don't intend to be in the rent-subsidy business forever," he said. "We hope that within five years we will be able to tell you success stories."
Other plans for the project include providing low-interest loans to owners for building improvements, purchasing property and selling it to nonprofit corporations for rehabilitation, and building an industrial park area for unskilled laborers.
"We're really committed to turning Buena Clinton around," Councilman Milt Krieger said. "It is an entire strategy in which we've identified the major problems of crime, slum landlords and unsanitary conditions.
"We have to get rid of those bad people, retain the good people and show the good people that we care--not only do we care, but we're going to put our actions where our mouth is."