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Philly official: Anti-violence budget focused on long term

August 19, 2021 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia city controller says about a fifth of the funding dedicated in this year’s city budget to address gun violence will go to programs that could immediately stem the shootings, according to an analysis released Thursday.

Controller Rebecca Rhynhart analyzed how the $155 million designated for what city officials called anti-violence initiatives is being spent. She said about $33 million, or 21% of the funding, will fund programs that are likely to have immediate results in trying to address the city’s gun violence crisis.

As of Thursday, the city had recorded 340 homicides compared to 283 over the same time period in 2020, a 20% increase according to the Philadelphia Police Department. Data on the controller’s website showed fatal shootings have increased nearly 30% over 2020, with 224 last year at this time as compared to 291 as of Thursday.

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Rhynhart advocated for more funding to be spent on programs that she categorized as intervention programs designed to have immediate impacts on gun violence because they have been shown to work in other cities.

The mayor’s office and city councilmembers have touted $22 million in new grant funding dedicated to community-based organizations working on short-term interventions. Applications for those funds are still being considered.

The analysis showed about 70% of the funding is being invested in programs that could produce results in violence reduction in the medium or long term. That includes after school programing, which could take five to 10 years before having a measurable impact, or programs like community revitalization initiatives that could take 15 to 20 years.

Rhynhart noted some of this funding was being used to restore pandemic-related cuts to parks and recreation or libraries, which she said might not qualify as anti-violence spending.

The analysis also noted the remaining 9% of the funding was dedicated to programs she said were police reforms, including improved mental health responses for people calling 911 as part of a co-responder program.