According to a report by City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, Philadelphians do not have immediate violence prevention measures in place. The report released on Thursday states that most of the $155 million allocated to anti-violence initiatives would have long-term results.
Ryhhart holds that Philly’s most recent budget “supports programs that will likely take years to produce measurable reductions in gun violence.”
As reported by phillyvoice.com, the city’s anti-violence budget for the 2022 fiscal year breaks down into two pools: $68 million in new funding and $87 million allocated to existing efforts.
Rhynhart’s office referred to the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform in classifying the initiatives funded in the city’s budget and determined that only 21%, or $33 million, was directed toward “intervention.” That is, efforts to interrupt gun violence happening right now by targeting people who are most likely to shoot or be shot.
Violence prevention efforts
A majority of the money allocated toward intervention efforts, $23.3 million, was from the $68 million in new funds. Of that $23.3 million, $20 million will be dispersed in grants to community-based organizations working in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.
The grants, which have not yet been awarded, must be used on projects taking place between this fall and next summer. However, the report from Rhynhart’s office notes that grant recipients may use the funding on long-term violence prevention efforts.
The city’s FY22 budget also allocated $6.6 million for the expansion of its Group Violence Intervention initiative and the Community Crisis Intervention Program. In an emailed statement to PhillyVoice, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney’s office called the evidence-based programs of violence prevention,”highly impactful and cost effective initiatives because they target residents most at-risk to be victims or offenders of violent crimes.”
No adequate context
“Framing it in such a way that only 21% of funding for short-term strategies isn’t sufficient doesn’t actually provide adequate context to the impact that these initiatives at the current funding levels can have on the immediate crisis,” the spokesperson said.
However, Rhynhart’s office, however, said it’s difficult to gauge their effectiveness because the city has not released evaluations of the programs publicly. The report advocates for using the community grants to fund programs that can provide evidence-based intervention to neighborhoods where they are not as prevalent now.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia is on pace for a record number of homicides due to a surge in gun violence. As of Thursday, the city had reported 343 homicides in 2021, a 21% increase from August 2020, according to police data.