The state of Pennsylvania has $30 million dollars to distribute in an effort to decrease violence.
Governor Tom Wolf traveled to a YMCA in West Philadelphia, where he joined officials to talk about state funding available to address community violence.
“Gun violence, like so many forms of systemic inequity, disproportionately harms communities of color and historically marginalized communities,” said Wolf.
The anti-violence grant money is for the entire state, not just Philadelphia, because the violence issues travel throughout the state. “Black Pennsylvanians are three times as likely as white Pennsylvanians to die as a result of a firearms related incident,” said Wolf.
State Representative Donna Bullock was among the host of officials at the announcement. She said the $30 million should only be a start to putting more funding into the state’s anti-violence efforts.
“Spend the money Governor, billions with a “B” billions of federal dollars that came into the commonwealth and are sitting in a so-called rainy-day fund while it is raining bullets in our community,” said Bullock. She wants the money to be spent on education and job opportunities and other programs to get out of the violence crisis as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Senator Vincent Hughes said it’s not just a Philadelphia issue. “Erie saw an 80% increase in shootings in the first 6 months of 2021, gun homicides were up 60%. Pittsburgh saw an 80% increase in homicides and a 90% increase in shootings in 2021…and last year was the deadliest year in 30 years, in the state capital of Harrisburg.”
State Senator Anthony Williams of Philadelphia said the money from the state is targeted as community-based groups and cannot wait any longer for gun laws that will never come and will never be passed. “What we need are resolutions on mental health, the fact that we have never had studies on a child who has grown up with PTSD…how do you expect them to be a loving or caring person if there is no connectivity,” he said.
Williams said his office and other elected representatives will be happy to work with groups to fill out the forms necessary to request the funds if they don’t know how to do it themselves.
Outside the event a few protested, calling for more police and jobs to help keep youth away from a life of crime.
Jamaal Johnson was one of the protestors. He said the city and specifically Mayor Jim Kenney is not doing enough to address the violence issue. “We need more resources available, recreation centers, we need more patrolling of our communities by the police. We need more hearing about the problem and seeking solutions,” he added.
Senator Williams said this is not just a city problem or a state problem. It requires national attention. The money will go to the community groups that have been on the ground working for years, and hopefully that will give them the ability to expand their reach and in turn curb the violence.
More information on the program can be found here. The program is targeting neighborhood-based organizations. The application deadline is Oct. 15.
Get daily updates from WHYY News!