Delegates from 90 cities swarmed over the Capital city yesterday to plead for more grass-roots citizen involvement in decision making about urban problems.
Meeting with White House aide Stuart Eisenstadt, representatives of the National People's Action organization complained that banks and home-loan institutions were not observing Federal Housing Administration guidelines, that crime-control funding to neighborhood groups was inadequate and that utility bills were crippling ordinary citizens' finances.
"Eisenstadt's approach was to hear their views and promise to study the resolutions they'd passed," said a White House spokesman.
National People's Action is an eight-year-old coalition claiming a memmbership of 300 neigborhood organizations. It is one of several citizens' groups beginning to demand federal attention to revitalization of urban neighborhoods.
Cora Smith, 52, a Chicago social worker, said she had tried to give a copy of the NPA demands to James Hagerty of the Community Anti-Crime Program, part of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. he had come to Howard University on Sunday to speak to the group at its workshop session there, she said, but didn't want to read the list.
"He said no, I won't take it, and I said won't you look at it, and he said get the hell out of here," she related to a mini-rally on the steps of he Cannon House Office Building. The group cheered and waves signs.
The NPA asked Eisenstadt to submit legislation providing 10 per cent of LEAA anti-crime funding directly to neigborhood organizations instead of the 2 per cent they now receive.
A major objective of the day was to register support for a utility cost reduction program called "lifetime" that President Carter's proposed energy plan would make optional for adoption by states. "We want it to be made mandatory," said Natalie Scheiderman of Chelsea, Mass.
The plan as it works in California provides a low basic rate for electricity, gas and water to residential users, who may use a given quality before paying an additional charge. A spokesman for the California Public Utiltities Commission explained in a telephone interview that the practice shifts the burden of utility costs to high-volume industrial consumers.
Householders who previously paid $11.06 for 240 kilowatt hours of electricity now pay $7.63, he said. The net effect has been resource conservation by both small and large users. "It's working very well," he said.
The NPA group claimed it had 2,500 members lobbying members of Congress and meeting with representatives of various federal agencies to push for "lifeline" and other needs of the cities.
Several delegates attended a markup session of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power on part of the energy bill, applaudong when Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.) endorsed the "lifeline" plan.
One delegate, in what an organizer called " and unscheduled burst of enthusiam," rose in the audience to demand support for the measure. But other NPA members hustled him out when police moved to evict him.
"We had no intention to disrupt the meeting," Schneiderman said. "We knew Moffett's speech was the best we could hope for there.