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A Christmas Gift For Homeless

President Clinton gave a Christmas gift to America's homeless Saturday: $900 million in grants to help them with housing, job training, mental health services and drug abuse treatment.

"Here at home, we're reaching out to the poorest among us - to those who do not yet share in America's growing prosperity," Mr. Clinton said in his weekly radio address. "We're making new efforts to reach out to the homeless, to help them find housing, medical care and jobs."

The homeless grants are from the Housing and Urban Development Department and are aimed at funding more than 2,000 projects in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The White House estimated the grants will help 245,000 homeless people.

Advocates for the homeless were pleased by the announcement, but say more still needs to be done. "It's good news," Shepley Metcalf, a spokesperson for Pine Street Inn, a Boston homeless shelter, told producer Lloyd de Vries.

"The city and the state need a lot more of that," she said. "There are a good number of people who actually have incomes but just can't afford the rents that are in place right now in Boston, they're so high."

The announcement came as President Clinton enjoyed a quiet Christmas Day at the White House with his wife Hillary, daughter Chelsea and other family members.

The Clintons wished Americans a merry Christmas and a happy New Year in a videotaped Christmas card taped earlier in the week.

"At the dawn of this new millennium, let us reflect on our hopes, our dreams, and the gifts we can give to the future," said the First Lady, who is running for a New York Senate seat. "Let us all cherish the gift of every child among us and pledge to build a world worthy of all our children."

The Clintons were joined by members of their extended family in the realization this is the next to the last Christmas they will be spending at the White House, reports CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

On the menu for the White House Christmas dinner: asparagus, artichoke and roasted tomato salad; corn, green bean and sweet salad; winter vegetable soup; sweet potato casserole; mashed potatoes; peas and carrots; turkey with herbed bread stuffing; and peppered ham.

And the desserts: chocolate cake with white icing; pumpkin pie with glazed ginger; lemon meringue pie, cherry pie, fresh fruits, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and Christmas cookies.