Area grouping shrinks funds for The City

In six years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security — an agency assigned to protect the U.S. from another terrorist attack on domestic soil — has grown to include 200,000 employees, managed by a budget that is more than $40 billion.

In 2003, the DHS began issuing the Urban Area Security Initiative grant, given to various U.S. cities to protect against the threat of terrorist attacks. However, since 2003, the money to San Francisco has decreased steadily.

San Francisco is one of seven urban areas deemed by the government to be Tier I targets — areas with a heightened threat of attack — and thus The City receives significantly more funding from the Urban Area Security Initiative grant than most U.S. metropolitan areas.

From 2003-05, the federal government awarded UASI grants to specific Bay Area cities, but in 2006, the funding was shifted to encompass the Bay Area to form a Super Urban Area Security Initiative.

The decision to combine the 10-county region was aimed at enhancing regional cooperation, according to DHS officials.

The grant money is now shared by the region, although San Francisco has been named the primary grantee and fiscal agent for the funding. Regions are also allowed to use the grant funding for preparations against natural disasters and other unforeseen events.

Since 2003, the DHS has doled out nearly $3.6 billion in UASI grants. San Francisco received $81 million from 2003-05, when it was the single recipient of the UASI grant. Since 2006, the Bay Area has received $62 million in SUASI grants.

Funding for San Francisco has decreased significantly since the 2006 merger. In 2003, the first year of the UASI grants, San Francisco received $28.5 million in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security. In 2007, the entire Bay Area region received $34 million, and with the state claiming 20 percent of the funding to oversee the program, the actual total was just $27 million.

The deadline to apply for this year’s UASI grants was May 1. The federal government said it would announce the funding amounts for each region within 90 days after the application deadline.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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