DC mayor requests $59M for public health approach to reducing gun violence

The D.C. mayor is approaching gun violence as a public health crisis, and she is requesting $59 million in the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget to tackle it.

The holistic approach includes bringing together resources from several government agencies, incorporating ideas from the community and supporting efforts already underway that are being driven by boots-on-the-ground participants.

She wants $11.4 million to support people recently released from prison.

“When people aren’t struggling just to cover the necessities, they can focus on setting and reaching their goals,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Described as an “investment in returning citizens,” the flexible funding approach includes financial coaching and help provided by community-based organizations.

“Funds will be provided for expenses, including housing, utilities, transportation, connectivity — vital documents and other immediate and emergency needs,” said Michelle M. Garcia, director of D.C.’s Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants.

Proposals subject to council approval also include funding to extend evening hours at recreation centers, money for more violence interrupters and additional credible messengers, temporary safe housing for people involved in gun violence, and 110 “dedicated employment opportunities” at D.C.’s Department of Public Works for people at risk for gun violence.

Grants for individuals, community groups and small organizations to continue ongoing missions are currently accepting applications. The money is “specifically designed for residents who assist the community every day,” D.C.’s Gun Violence Prevention director, Linda Harllee Harper, said.

Mini-grants for $5,000 will be awarded to individuals, and $50,000 grants will go to entities or organizations that are creating innovative programs to help reduce gun violence.

D.C.’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention is partnering with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and the Progressive Life Center to distribute the grants within identified Building Blocks neighborhoods that need extra support.

The Building Blocks DC website has more information about the grants; interested parties can learn more or apply by contacting Daisha Windham at  daisha.windham@dc.go.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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