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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1999202/307-0703



YOUNGSTOWN, OH - Youngstown has been officially recognized as a Weed and Seed site, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.

Weed and Seed is a multi-agency strategy that "weeds out" violent crime, gang activity, drug use and drug trafficking in targeted neighborhoods and then "seeds" the target area by restoring these neighborhoods through social and economic revitalization. Since Weed and Seed is a strategy rather than a grant program, all sites must show their ability to obtain financial resources from public and private sources. A site is officially recognized once a development plan has been created and the area's United States Attorney has selected a committee that will administer the program. Once the site is officially recognized, it is eligible to apply for Weed and Seed funds.

"This office fully supports the Weed and Seed concept," said U.S. Attorney Emily Sweeney, whose office is a central coordinating point for the program locally. "We have worked closely with several cities throughout the Northern District of Ohio on developing and implementing their Weed and Seed strategies, and we are pleased to include the City of Youngstown a part of this initiative."

"The Weed and Seed program has proven to be an effective approach in reinvigorating communities within our cities," said Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the agency that oversees the program. "This initiative has not only helped substantially reduce crime, but also has brought together citizens and organizations to improve the quality of life in these communities."

In Youngstown, the officially recognized Weed and Seed site focuses on the Southside district of the city. The Southside area has been in a state of decline in the past decade and includes five census tracts and two main thoroughfares. This area contains over 17,000 residents, with 31 percent living below poverty level and 19 percent unemployed. The Southside area has the highest rate of homicide, burglary and juvenile crime in Youngstown. Some streets in the district have only 50 percent of the homes occupied; others are abandoned or slated for demolition.

Youngstown's Weed and Seed effort will implement a long-term restoration strategy to improve the overall quality of life. Within the first year, Youngstown State University and the Mayor's Task Force on Crime and Violence will conduct surveys to provide direction in creating a community development plan. Law enforcement initiatives will focus on increasing regular patrols of the target area to improve police visibility and reduce the fear of crime. Other initiatives will focus on improving safety by reducing drug-related activities and increasing block watch activities through the Safe Streets Now! Program, which helps community members become more effective in community organizing to fight crime.

"The Weed and Seed initiative is a highly successful approach to community revitalization," added Stephen Rickman, Director of the Executive Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS) in OJP. "We're pleased that Youngstown will join the ranks of other communities that have turned these collaborative efforts into great accomplishments."

The Weed and Seed program, which began with three sites in 1991, has grown to include more than 200 sites nationwide. The program's strategy recognizes the importance of linking and integrating federal, state and local law enforcement and criminal justice efforts with federal, state and local social services, and private sector and community efforts to increase the impact of existing programs and resources. It also recognizes the vital importance of community involvement to solve problems in their own neighborhoods. The private sector is involved as a pivotal partner in the Weed and Seed strategy.

Four elements make up Weed and Seed: law enforcement; community policing; prevention, intervention, and treatment; and neighborhood restoration. Law enforcement activities constitute the "weed" portion of the program. Revitalization, which includes prevention, intervention, and treatment services, and then neighborhood restoration constitutes the "seed" element. Community policing is the "bridge" that links the Weed and Seed elements.

More information is available through the EOWS Web site at: Information about other OJP bureaus and offices is available at



For additional information contact Sheila Jerusalem at 202/307-0703.