Attorney General Matt Denn has issued a proposal to use about $29 million in funds from Bank of America and Citigroup for programs to fight crime and to help homeowners.
Attorney General Matt Denn on Dec. 30 renewed and revised his proposal to utilize funds from financial crisis settlement to be used for crime prevention, housing, substance abuse treatment, after school and summer school programs, prisoner reentry and education in those areas.
The proposal is a renewal of the attorney general’s “Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities” program, announced in January 2015 for using settlement funds Delaware received from Bank of America and Citigroup to resolve allegations of market misconduct by financial institutions that contributed to the national financial crash.
The amount of funds now available is approximately $29 million, rather than the original $36 million available a year ago. $5 million was used by the General Assembly in June 2015 to balance the state budget, and another $2 million was set aside in December by agreement between the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and the Department of Justice to expand policing in high-crime areas of Dover and Wilmington. JFC is expected to deliberate over additional uses of the funds in January.
The renewed Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities is similar to that unveiled in January, with some dollar amounts reduced to reflect the smaller amount of funds available, and with two changes to reflect valuable input that was received from the community and legislators after the initial proposal was made.
The Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities proposal now consists of :
- Investing in People and Neighborhoods ($10.7 Million)
- Substance Abuse Treatment -- $3 million over three years should be spent on providing drug treatment opportunities for inmates with substance abuse disorder who are either nearing release from prison or have just been released from prison.
- Prison Re-Entry Programs -- $3 million over three years should be spent on competitive grants to non-profit organizations that assist inmates being released from correctional facilities to avoid new criminal offenses.
- Community Policing and Community Support -- $4.7 million should be allocated to the state’s Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, which can make grants for a broad array of government and non-profit efforts to support economically impacted neighborhoods.
- Providing Affordable Housing and Development in Economically Impacted Areas ($10.5 million)
- Foreclosure Prevention -- $1.5 million should be directed to the Delaware Mortgage Assistance Program to help Delaware homeowners prevent foreclosures on their primary properties.
- Home Purchase Opportunities for Foreclosure Victims -- $4 million should go to the Downtown Development Districts program, to be used for the purpose of providing down payment assistance to homeowners willing to purchase homes in Downtown Development Districts. Down payment grants should be means-tested, and first priority would be given to persons and families who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and the present.
- Affordable Housing -- $5 million should go to the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Strong Neighborhoods Revolving Housing Fund, which is dedicated to the creation of affordable housing in economically impacted areas.
- Providing Help to Low-Income Children ($7.8 million)
- Support for High Poverty Elementary Schools -- $4.8 million to providing $100,000 per year for three years to each of the state’s 16 highest-poverty elementary schools, to allow them to hire additional teachers or paraprofessionals to work with the students from low-income areas who attend school there every day.
- After School and Summer Programs -- $3 million over three years should be spent on after-school and summer programs targeted at students who live in low-income areas of the state.
The Citi and BOA settlement funds are held by the attorney general’s office and can be spent by agreement of the attorney general and the Joint Finance Committee if the JFC indicates it does not intend to take the funds from the settlement account and allocate them as part of the budget process.
Denn said he continues to believe the settlement funds should not be used by the legislature to plug budget holes.