Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club, NY hosted Governor Kathy Hochul, Monday, November 22, to announce $6.2 million in grants will be awarded to expand community and hospital-based gun violence intervention programs in communities across the state that have experienced significant increases in shootings and firearm-related murders over the past year.
“The unfortunate reality is that we’re still seeing the spectre of gun violence in communities across the nation,” Governor Hochul shared. “This is a wake-up call, and with today’s announcement I’m proud to have committed more than $30 million in grants to fight gun violence. These funds will boost street outreach programs in targeted areas that have seen an uptick in the cycle of gun violence, providing young people with the tools and education to pursue a brighter future.”
Continuing the State’s collaboration with communities facing increased gun violence, the funding will allow nonprofit organizations and hospitals to hire 90 new outreach workers, violence interrupters and social workers who will work to reduce gun violence through mediation, mentoring and community engagement, and addressing the trauma experienced by victims of violence and their families.
Gov, Hochul also announced $100,000 in new grants to Family Services of Westchester and Peace is a Lifestyle to expand their youth engagement and anti-violence programming in Westchester and the Bronx. The governor announced the funding at the Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, joining Representative Jamaal Bowman and a host of violence prevention experts and community leaders.
“Throughout my work as an educator and experience as a parent and resident in New York, I’ve seen firsthand the kinds of struggles people in our neighborhoods face on a daily basis,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman shared with Black Westchester. “I am proud to join Governor Hochul in strategically investing in critical community programs and securing new funding for Westchester Family Services and Peace is A Lifestyle. People are suffering and we see it in how much violence and self-destructive behavior is occurring among young people and older generations alike. Today’s announcement of additional funding and the continued partnership between the Governor, on-the-ground community groups, and myself is a positive step forward in our mission to end violence, but we will not stop here. To begin healing and respond to this crisis, we need more funds for support programs in our neighborhoods. In Congress, I will continue working to get the Build Back Better Act, which will deliver billions for violence intervention programs across the country, signed into law. I know that we are on the right path to healing our friends, loved ones, and neighbors alike.”
In September, Governor Hochul announced $23.7 million in grants, which included $2 million in grants to hire 39 new violence interrupters in New York City and street outreach workers at all 12 state-supported SNUG Street Outreach programs. With these new awards, the state has awarded a total of $8.2 million in grants so 31 nonprofit organizations and hospitals can hire 129 new gun violence intervention staff, $5.8 million for youth engagement programs, and $16 million for workforce training and placement.
Street outreach and violence interrupter programs treat gun violence as a public health issue by identifying the source, interrupting its transmission, and treating it by engaging individuals and communities to change community norms about violence. Executive Order 211, which Governor Hochul recently extended, allows the state to expedite these grants. The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has partnered with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to distribute funding to nonprofit organizations operating community-based programs while DCJS will administer the grants to hospital-based programs and the state’s 12 SNUG Street Outreach programs. The state’s SNUG Street Outreach programs will expand their reach in Albany, the Bronx, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mt. Vernon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse Troy, Yonkers and Wyandanch. Four of those programs – in Albany, the Bronx, Buffalo and Syracuse – have staff that work both in the community and trauma centers. DCJS funds and provides administrative oversight and training to the SNUG programs, which are operated by nonprofit organizations in those communities.
The state’s SNUG Street Outreach programs will expand their reach in Albany, the Bronx, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mt. Vernon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse Troy, Yonkers and Wyandanch. Four of those programs – in Albany, the Bronx, Buffalo and Syracuse – have staff that work both in the community and trauma centers. DCJS funds and provides administrative oversight and training to the SNUG programs, which are operated by nonprofit organizations in those communities.
“We’ve seen a tremendous spike in the number of gun-related crimes this past year” Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “It truly is a health crisis in and of itself and must be confronted with a sense of urgency. New York State was the first in the nation to declare gun violence a disaster emergency and treat it as a public health crisis. I’d like to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for extending this emergency and freeing up funds to be used for intervention. Community Violence Intervention is one of the most effective ways to reduce and stop gun-related crimes, and today’s announcement continues our work with community leaders to make real investments. By working with our communities and through the investments being made we can stem the number of shootings in our area and put a stop to these senseless killings.”
Street outreach workers and violence interrupters respond to shootings to prevent retaliation through mediation and assist those directly affected by the violence; engage the community, religious organizations and clergy, and local businesses through rallies and special events; and mentor individuals to set goals and connect them with educational and job opportunities and services, including counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, anger management courses and other resources, to promote positive life skills.
Through a partnership between DCJS and the state Office of Victim Services, the SNUG programs also provide trauma-informed counseling, support groups, advocacy and assistance with filing victim compensation applications, and referrals for other services as identified or needed. Clinical social workers and case managers assist SNUG participants and their families; SNUG staff, some of whom also have complex trauma histories because of their prior life and involvement with the criminal justice system; and any victim of community violence or other crimes in the cities served by the program. DCJS’s centralized administrative structure and training for SNUG provides for comprehensive, consistent oversight of the program despite being operated by 12 different entities in each community.