May 1, 2008

New Senate Bill Supports Investments in Safer Rhode Island Communities

Whitehouse, Specter Introduce Legislation Authorizing Funding for Community Safety Initiative

Washington, D.C. – A national program that transforms distressed communities in Rhode Island and across the country through more affordable housing and crime prevention would get much-needed support with new Senate legislation introduced today.

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced a bill that would authorize federal funding for the Community Safety Initiative (CSI), a program of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) that brings together community development organizations, local law enforcement, and other partners to revitalize troubled neighborhoods. If enacted, this bill would establish a consistent funding structure for the CSI, helping this innovative program as it seeks other sources of financial support.

“Rhode Islanders have seen the extraordinary good CSI’s efforts have accomplished in our state, and we want to do all we can to support its work in the future,” said Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney and Attorney General who created the state’s first nuisance task force to clean up derelict properties, or properties used for crime, in distressed communities. “Authorizing this program will give LISC added leverage as it seeks federal funding in the future.”

CSI is spearheaded by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which provides capital, technical expertise, training, and support to community-based development organizations and others working to restore and rebuild neighborhoods.

Rhode Island LISC has coordinated the investment of $161 million in the state since 1991, creating close to 6,000 new affordable housing units. Last year, Rhode Island’s Community Safety Initiative won national recognition by the MetLife Foundation for its work to revitalize Riverside Park in Olneyville, a three-year project that has resulted in a drop of nearly 60 percent in the crime rate in this area, as well as the creation of 70 units of affordable housing. CSI in Rhode Island is also working to curb recidivism and help provide stable housing for former offenders reentering society.

LISC officials praised the new legislation.

“This bill is an important milestone in LISC’s efforts to support and expand strategic community-police partnerships around the country,” said Michael Rubinger, President and CEO of LISC. “Safety is a fundamental part of neighborhood well-being and we appreciate the leadership of Senator Whitehouse and Senator Specter on this issue.”

Rhode Island LISC Executive Director Barbara Fields said, “We are very grateful for the leadership of Senators Whitehouse and Specter. Their commitment to public safety and to this innovative and creative program in particular will help provide the resources necessary to move our work forward in Providence and other cities.”


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921