By Sriya ReddyThe city of Dallas announced $150,000 in grant funding Tuesday for the Mill City Public Safety Initiative, a community-focused project aimed at remediating urban decay and decreasing crime in the South Dallas neighborhood.The grant was originally $100,000, but District 7 council member Adam Bazaldua increased it by another $50,000 saying that he wanted to maximize the effort in South Dallas.The project is a two-year, block-by-block plan that includes remediating dilapidated buildings, cleaning vacant lots and increasing lighting. Builders of Hope CDC, a West Dallas based affordable housing nonprofit, is taking charge of the project and is expecting to remediate about 80 lots in Mill City over the next two years.Mayor Eric Johnson said while announcing the funding that leaving these areas abandoned gives the impression that no one is paying attention.Johnson has had a focus on public safety and has pushed to close down problem businesses and increase blight remediation.“It wasn’t just a hunch,” Johnson said. “It was based on research and the research is very clear that remediating blight helps us both reduce violent crime and invest in beautifying communities like the ones I grew up in and like the community right here in Mill City.”Chief Eddie Garcia said that this method is data-driven and has proved to increase safety.“By cleaning up vacant lots, run-down buildings, and homes we are working to further decrease violent crime and increase quality of life for those who live in this neighborhood,” Garcia said.James Armstrong III, president and CEO of Builders of Hope, said this initiative will increase the quality of life for residents as well and that Builders of Hope is working alongside the community association to build a safer future.“That’s what we do,” he said. “We come alongside strong community leaders to build their capacity. So that we can together bring about a thriving neighborhood.”Alendra Lyons, president of the Mill City community association, remembers her community when she grew up. She said there were flowers, businesses and overall vibrancy. Decades later, things have changed.Lyons is determined to make her community livable again and is hopeful of what this initiative means for the future.“I want the kids that I work with, that live here, to be in a place of safety and beautification, where they can enjoy where they live,” she said.
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