Harrisburg, Pa. – June 25, 2021 – The Pennsylvania Legislature has allocated $3o million dollars for community violence prevention programs in the approved 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. The Block Grants will be managed by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and will support local efforts to take preventive measures to stop growing gun violence that is occurring across the state.
“This investment will save lives and it’s just a down payment. We’re going to focus this effort at the community level and fight this epidemic block by block, street by street across this entire commonwealth. This is not just a big city issue. The surge in violence has shattered lives in small towns and townships across Pennsylvania. We’re in this together,” Senator Vincent Hughes said.
“As we vote on this budget, we are working to save lives. We’re giving resources to neighborhood organizations across the commonwealth, from Philadelphia, to Hazelton, to Downingtown, to interrupt the cycle of community violence,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton.
Lawmakers made clear community violence is a public health crisis that affects all areas- urban, suburban, and rural. And COVID-19 further exasperated inequities and gaps that have long existed in communities across the commonwealth, especially Black and brown communities.
“This $30 million is an investment into grassroots organizations who are doing the hard work every day to better our communities. They are everyday heroes who typically operate on shoestring budgets. There’s more work to be done, but this is a record amount of funding that will offer solutions to the very difficult, complex and challenging issue of community violence,” said Senator Anthony H. Williams.
Gun safety and violence prevention advocates point out gun violence rates are largely driven by factors like poverty, addiction, and trauma. Investing funds in community programs that address education, job training, mental health, and addiction, head on, are key to stopping violence and ultimately supporting the future of youth and communities.
“$30 million in Community Violence Block Grants is an investment that will literally save lives. The data is clear, ease of access to firearms, heightened stress and deepened poverty caused by the pandemic has increased shootings across our commonwealth. A coordinated and constant effort to fund those doing the crucial work of violence intervention, with a focus on addressing the social determinants that drive conflicts in our communities, is our new mandate,” said Senator Sharif Street.
In Pennsylvania, data has been a clear indicator of surging community violence. Philadelphia has surpassed 250 homicides and Pittsburgh has had a 90% increase in shootings this year. In 2020, Harrisburg had the deadliest year for violence in the city in the past three decades. In Erie, the number of confirmed shots fired jumped more than 80 percent.
“These funds are a win for our communities. So often I hear from constituents about loss, hurt and injury. They ask me what elected officials can do to help. Well here’s what we can do. We invest in our communities and those who are on the front lines,” said Senator Art Haywood.
In May 2021, Governor Wolf announced $5 million in funding to support local efforts to reduce community gun violence in Philadelphia and other regions across the state experiencing recent surges in shootings, homicides, and other firearm-related crimes. The additional $30 million dollars from Pennsylvania’s budget will provide even more opportunity for local and community organizations to address the growing issue of gun violence and public safety.