RICHMOND -- The city is in the running for a $1 million federal grant to start a neighborhood revitalization program that targets areas struggling with theft, prostitution and blight.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a $17,600 contract with The Glen Price Group, an El Cerrito-based consulting firm, to develop and submit an application for the grant by the end of this month.
"This is an opportunity for us to compete on a national level for Department of Justice money," said Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus, adding that the application's complexity required expert help.
The grant is through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program and is aimed at funding a "neighborhood revitalization program that targets distressed neighborhoods with significant crime challenges that generate a significant proportion of crime or type of crime within the larger community," according to a city staff report.
Magnus said Richmond was well positioned to be one of the six cities nationwide that will win the grant.
"We think this is a worthwhile risk-to-benefit ratio," Magnus said.
Richmond's application will be aimed at an area comprising Belding Woods, the 23rd Street corridor, Richmond High School and part of the North and East Neighborhood, Magnus said.
Residential burglaries and auto thefts have been rising in those areas, Magnus said, and prostitution and human trafficking remain a problem on some stretches of the
"I picked the neighborhood that we thought was best tailored to the proposal," Magnus said.
The grant would be aimed at fostering better community engagement and gives police officials latitude to innovate in "increasing the number of active Neighborhood Watch groups, improving communication between residents, fortifying residential and commercial properties, and improving the overall look and feel of the area to make it less attractive to criminals, addressing blight issues more effectively," according to the staff report.
The contract was approved without opposition. Councilman Tom Butt abstained.
Councilman Corky Boozé voted for the measure but told Magnus he wanted to see more efforts to get grant funds to the crime-plagued south side of the city.
"I am putting you on notice," Boozé told the chief. "This year something has got to happen on the south side."
Councilman Jael Myrick, who was sworn in Tuesday, took his first official action as a City Council member, seconding the motion to approve the contract.
Myrick said he understood the crime troubles because as a resident of Belding Woods, his house "has been broken into three times in the past year."
Myrick also looked to assuage Boozé, the only council member to oppose Myrick's appointment on Monday. Myrick takes the seat won in November by Gary Bell, who was medically unable to serve.
"I've got mad love for the south side," Myrick said, smiling at Boozé.