The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has come under fire from congressional investigators as a "high risk" agency vulnerable to waste and fraud, was honored yesterday by the prestigious 1999 Innovations in American Government competition for its program to help 300,000 homeless people move into permanent housing.
HUD's Continuum of Care program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each won $100,000 in the competition sponsored by the Ford Foundation and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. Eight other $100,000 winners were picked from among Indian, state and local governments around the country.
The HUD program, launched in 1995, restructured the relationship between federal, state and local government services to provide better planning and coordinated help for homeless people. It aims to ensure that the homeless are not only given a bed for the night but are also assisted in their search for permanent housing.
"It is a true measure of success that thousands of people who were homeless have become self-sufficient and now live full and productive lives," HUD Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo said yesterday.
The CDC, recently criticized for not spending funds earmarked for studying chronic fatigue syndrome, was honored for PulseNet, its network for identifying and addressing the spread of foodborne disease. Laboratories on the network use pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, a technique that "fingerprints" bacteria according to their DNA.
An award also went to Cangleska Inc., an Oglala Sioux Tribe organization in Kyle, S.D., launched in 1987 to prevent violence against Oglala Sioux women. Cangleska operates a shelter for battered women and provides assistance to more than 550 tribes.
The other winners were the Wisconsin Works welfare-to-employment program; Texas's district-by-district audit of school practices; New York City's and New Jersey's programs to renovate and repair inner-city housing; the Behavioral Health System of the county and city of Philadelphia, for providing "seamless" mental health and substance abuse services; Pittsburgh's Electronic Bond Bidding Initiative, through which municipal bonds are sold over the Internet to increase competition and open up the process to businesses owned by women and minorities; and Massachusetts's Toxic Use Reduction Program.
The awardees were chosen by a committee headed by David R. Gergen, editor-at-large of U.S. News and World Report and a former counselor to President Clinton.