WASHINGTON, DC—Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that his department will allocate $260 million toward the construction of more than 50,000 low-outcome housing units in cities across the U.S.

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According to Cuomo, the new low-outcome housing projects—slated to begin construction May 1—will start out as proud symbols of urban renewal and be hailed by local and federal officials as "a major step in the right direction," but will quickly erode through a combination of crime, mismanagement and gross neglect.

"Thanks to these low-outcome housing units, hundreds of thousands of impoverished inner-city Americans will soon have a place to briefly call their own, a place they can feel good about in the short term," Cuomo said. "These housing units will provide these people with a clean, safe, comfortable place to live for many months before they fall into a state of disrepair due to an infestation of drug dealers and lack of federal upkeep funds."

Former president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn oversee construction of a federally funded low-outcome housing project near Atlanta. Similar projects will soon go up across the U.S.

Cuomo said that under the just-approved plan, more than $390 million will not go toward basic maintenance of the housing projects over the next 20 years. Additionally, no funds have been earmarked for upgrades.

According to Cuomo, if all goes according to plan, the gleam will disappear from the new buildings' surfaces within one month, and ventilation systems will begin breaking within four. By November 1999, pipes should burst in 65 percent of the new units, leaving an estimated 160,000 residents without running water.

Cuomo said HUD officials have not yet determined where all the new housing units would be built, but specifically mentioned Chicago's Cabrini Green and Los Angeles' Compton neighborhood as "urban areas that are well beyond renewal, but could certainly do with more tiny apartments to despair in, walls to spray-paint, and dark, labyrinthine hallways to turn into youth prowling grounds."

The HUD plan was widely praised by community activists across the nation.

"These new dwellings should go a long way toward making me feel like things are getting better for America's poor," said Carole Tyler-Guyton, director of the San Diego-based Citizen's Outreach Network. "I only hope that, by the time they start falling apart, something else will come along to make me feel good."