The city council added $28 million to the budget for “placemaking efforts,” which it hopes will reduce crime by improving the quality of life at the neighborhood level. Some research has shown a correlation between interventions such as home repairs and greening vacant lots and reducing crime.
These environmental investments include:
- $5 million for the expansion of the Community Enhancement Program
- $1 million for licensing and inspections Clean and seal, demolitions
- $2 million for abandoned vehicles
- $2 million for open dumping
Terrill Haigler, a former sanitation worker who now advocates for environmental improvements as violence prevention under the nickname “YaFavTrashman”, said he was excited about the additional funding for the CLIP program, which helps community members organize their own clean-up events.
“Your environment affects you emotionally and mentally, so you wake up to dirt every day,” he said. “There will only be a negative effect on a mentality and a negative effect on your emotions.”
He said he hoped the city would set aside funds to create an illegal dumping task force, to bring more trucks and sanitation workers to the streets to improve turnaround time. pickups.
The new budget also includes investments in streetlights and security cameras.
Youth programs and safe spaces
The mayor’s proposal and city council’s additions address the need for programs for young people, especially those considered at risk of being involved in gun violence later in life.
This includes an additional $12 million for the Anti-Violence Community Expansion Grant program, which funds gun violence prevention efforts run by nonprofit groups. The program also received a $13.5 million investment in Budget 2022. A similar city-run violence prevention grant program designed to help nonprofits has experienced significant delays in distribution of funds.
The 2023 budget includes $2.5 million to keep recreation centers with gyms open on weekends, which DeCarlo of the Anti-Violence Partnership says could have a significant impact.
“If the space is usable, other nonprofits in the city could also use it to deliver programs, and I think the kids will come,” she said. ” They are there. They are on the basketball courts, they are on the playgrounds. It’s just a matter of opening the doors and saying come in and talk to us.
She said ensuring recreation center funding is used in a way that truly impacts young people will require working with neighborhood groups to design programs that appeal to them.
Homicide and non-fatal shootings have a lasting impact on victims, their loved ones, and neighborhood residents indirectly affected by the violence.
“It’s not like a bullet only hurts the person it hits. It hurts communities, generations, all of us,” said Victoria Wylie of the Donte Wylie Foundation. “I don’t care how much money they add to it, it’s probably not enough.”
Budget 2023 includes some support for those experiencing violence-related trauma, including:
- $500,000 for the Office of the Victims Advocate
- $100,000 for a domestic violence hotline
- $5.8 million for the Defender Association
The Kenney administration says 2023 will mark an expansion of restorative justice diversion, in which young people who have caused harm or been injured by gun violence undergo a supervised reconciliation process.
Some research suggests that being shot is one of the biggest predictors of becoming a shooter. Wylie said building a system that comprehensively addresses the effects of gun violence could prevent victims from becoming abusers. She also said there was a huge need for housing, mental health help and other forms of support for survivors.
“A person gets shot, they can be contacted the moment they are hurt,” she said. “But what happens ten years after their injury? Even if you heal, the trauma, grief, pain and anger you feel after being shot remains.
The 2023 budget also includes funds to improve street outreach programs, expand job training and pilot a version of the READI program, an out-of-Chicago model that combines therapy and job search assistance.
If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find bereavement support and resources here.