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News Briefs, part 2

HUD Targets Homelessness In Nation's Capital

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

The federal government promised Monday to give the District of Columbia $20 million to help eliminate homelessness by providing permanent housing, medical treatment and job training while, in some cases, using police officers to "encourage reluctant homeless persons living on the streets" to go to shelters.

Officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the $20 million would be given to the District, with no strings attached, over the next two years to finance the the D.C. Homeless Initiative. The District spent $23.6 million on shelter programs in the last fiscal year, including $1.4 million in federal money.

HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros said the initiative, designed by federal officials, D.C. officials and advocates for the homeless, would shift the focus of the city's efforts from providing emergency shelter to preventing needy people from becoming homeless and helping others escape homelessness permanently. By 1995, more than 2,050 individuals and families in the District would receive permanent housing, treatment or job training, according to the plan.

The initiative won some praise from advocates for the homeless, but they questioned whether the funding was adequate and expressed concern about provisions for the possible involuntary commitment of some mentally ill homeless people and the use of police officers to move homeless people off the streets.

New York Public Schools Open With Chaos, Confusion

Newsday

NEW YORK

"A" is for anarchy. "B" is for bedlam. "C" is for chaos. "D" is for disgust ... well, you get the idea.

The New York City public schools opened Monday, sorta, for some kids, y'know, at some schools, kinda, in most districts.

Borough by borough the back-to-school breakdance went, from parents screaming and marching to the Board of Education headquarters, to kindergartners traipsing ugly streets when buses didn't show, to principals surveying closed-off classrooms with parents, to PTA members teaming up to lobby for continued closure of an asbestos-laden school.

The new schools chancellor, Ramon Cortines, adjudged the day a qualified success, giving it a grade of "B, B-minus" overall but awarding an A-plus for effort on the part of parents, teachers and administrators.

Cortines spent the day visiting schools unannounced: He started in Chinatown, then visited a host of other schools throughout the city before stopping at District 19 headquarters in Brooklyn to meet with angry parents who had boycotted school.

Cortines also visited Seward Park High School, shortly after a 17-year-old student used a boxcutter to slash the throat of another teen-ager who had been arguing with his brother. Cortines said 46 schools did not open Monday. Meyer Frucher, a trustee of the School Construction Authority, said 43 schools did not open Monday. Dinkins said about 57 of the system's 1,069 schools were closed and 61 operated on adjusted schedules.