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President Obama Elaborates On East Side Promise Zone Initiative

City of San Antonio

  President Barack Obama has selected five areas in the country to be "promise zones" designed to revitalize economically and educationally distressed areas. The East Side of San Antonio has been selected as one.

During a news conference, the president named the East Side specifically, pointing out that 40 percent of adults do not have a high school diploma and crime is 50 percent higher in that part of town.

"So schools and community members are focused on getting more kids into pre-K, boosting math and science in high school, and they’re putting more cops on foot patrol to make their neighborhoods safer," Obama said.

The promise zones, which also include Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and parts of Kentucky and Oklahoma, are designed to give the areas priority access to resources from federal departments like Housing and Urban Development, Education, Commerce, Health and Human Services. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said that under the promise, East Side housing developments are slated to be rebuilt along with other improvements.

"We’re going to be working on improved street lighting even though the public housing is being redeveloped we have too many abandoned buildings," Donovan said.

Donovan said many of the abandoned buildings could be demolished.

The East Side already has the Choice and Promise Neighborhood grants, which made it eligible to be selected. The five promise zones are the first of 20 which will be phased in over the next three years.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules