Hope in Youth,Hope in Funding

About a year ago the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors committed $2.9 million for the Hope in Youth anti-gang program--but the money still has not been released.

This delay, which is in part due as much to clever political maneuvering for scarce funds in the county as to conflicting interpretations of the terms of the approved motion, now threatens $2.5 million committed by the City of Los Angeles eight months ago for the same program.

Come on! Get the money to the program now!

The nine churches and four community organizations--representing about a quarter of a million families--cannot keep waiting until elected officials decide to make good on their promises. Every day the program is delayed Los Angeles misses an opportunity to rescue a kid who could still be saved from irreversible entanglement with gangs.

A key funding problem is that in these times of budgetary crisis at the federal, state, county and city levels, and with a national economic recession sapping the private sector, nobody wants to be the first to release the funds already committed. Thus the county and the city are suddenly like two overly courteous gentlemen at a doorway--one says, "You first," and the other says, "Oh no, I insist, you first." Someone please go ahead and take that first step.

Given the proven dedication of the religious and community groups involved in Hope in Youth, the Board of Supervisors, the City Council and the city's Community Redevelopment Agency should show leadership and agree to release the promised funds--as Richard Riordan, Los Angeles' new mayor, has argued.

Hope in Youth is a good program that proposes to emphasize prevention, education, responsible parenting, family intercommunication and discipline instead of punishment. By creating a network of 8,000 volunteers--with only 480 staff members in 160 family outreach teams--Hope in Youth can make a difference. By connecting educators with parents and children, its officials believe, 80% of the youths now involved in gang activity can be saved.

Let's not delay the promised money for a minute more. Let's honor the commitment to this effort--and to the city's troubled children.

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