Weed and Seed Welcomed
A $1 million Federal grant announced earlier this month gives residents in an area of West Asheville plagued with crime some resources with which to fight back. The grant will be dispersed over five years and was awarded under Weed and Seed, a program aimed at reducing violent crime.
The West Asheville area is home to about 6,000 residents, including 500 in the city's largest public housing complex, Pisgah View Apartments. The Pisgah View and Burton Street areas are responsible for much of the violent crime rate in the area, which is 72 percent higher than Asheville as a whole. In Pisgah View, the unemployment rate is 13 percent, compared to 6 percent for the city as a whole. About 39 percent of children in the area live in poverty, compared to 21 percent in Asheville, according to U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert's office. Shappert announced the grant in mid-July.
Half the grant money will be used to support community policing to reduce the amount of crime occurring in the neighborhood. The other half will be used for drug-abuse treatment, mentoring, after-school programs, the arts, and job creation. Such an approach reduces criminal activity while providing members of the neighborhood, especially young people, with opportunities that can help them realize their potential.
The commitment of neighbors to one another and their desire to improve their community will be a huge contributor to the success of the program. Neighbors who have worked hard as members of the city's Weed and Seed steering committee deserve to be commended for their efforts.
"I really do feel like someone has heard our cries," said Pisgah View resident Miaisha Wadsworth, a member of the steering committee, "they are starting to answer those cries."
If the money is used wisely, over time, the resources made available through this grant can make a big difference in people's lives.