Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rolled out the first stage of his anti-gang initiative Monday, passing over some well-established anti-gang organizations that were competing for contracts in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, reports the city’s Times. Villaraigosa recommended awarding half-million-dollar contracts to six gang-prevention programs, including one run by Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, targeting children from 10 to 15 years old who are most likely to be lured into gang life. A second batch of anti-gang contracts will be awarded later this year, officials said.
“This is arguably the most pressing social problem in the city of Los Angeles,” said Jeff Carr, the city’s deputy mayor for gang reduction and youth development. The programs will replace L.A. Bridges, a city initiative that has been under fire for almost a decade and is being scrapped by the mayor’s office for not delivering clear results. Forty-four organizations applied for the six grants, and Carr said the selection process was transparent and based solely on merit.