Alabama Agencies and Cities Can Unlock Victim of Crime Act Funding to Support and Expand Community-Based Violence Intervention Initiatives
Report Comes During National Gun Violence Survivors Week From February 1-8
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Cities United today released a new report, A Fund for Healing: VOCA Grants for Violence Reduction, that highlights the millions of unaccessed dollars of federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funding available that state agencies — including in Alabama — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“Gun violence takes a physical, psychological, emotional, and economic toll on survivors and our families – and that toll lingers for decades,” said Nikesha Tilton, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, whose oldest cousin was shot and killed when she was in middle school. “There are great local organizations across the state that help survivors bear that toll, and we’re eager to work with Alabama officials to help those organizations access sorely-needed VOCA funding.”
“We’re all heartbroken by the amount of gun violence we see in our communities — and the pain and trauma don’t end once the news has moved on,” said Dana Ellis, a volunteer with the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Alabama can help survivors heal by unlocking the millions of dollars in VOCA funding available to gun violence intervention providers.”
“Many do not realize that there are proven methods for dramatically reducing gun violence in our cities which, according to recent estimates, could cut the national homicide rate in half if implemented in our 40 most dangerous cities,” said Dr. Antonio Cediel, Urban Strategies Campaign Manager. “The fact that these methods continue to go unfunded is a moral outrage. This report highlights how VOCA victim assistance grants could make a huge difference in bringing peace to our cities and help stem the tide of trauma in our communities.”
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Alabama’s grant administering agency — are not utilizing the funds, leaving much of the reserve unspent and missing countless opportunities to help survivors of gun violence in need of support services. In the report, Everytown for Gun Safety and Cities United make recommendations for states, cities, hospitals, and local organizations to direct this funding to communities hit hardest by gun violence, like Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. Recommendations include:
- States should dedicate VOCA victim assistance funding to gun violence victim services.
- Cities and hospitals should partner with local gun violence intervention groups to apply for VOCA victim assistance funding.
- Community-based gun violence intervention groups are eligible VOCA victim assistance funding and should seek out partnerships with cities and hospitals.
The report release coincides with National Gun Violence Survivors Week, February 1-8, which focuses on sharing and amplifying the stories of gun violence survivors who live with the impact of gun violence every day of the year. With a gun death rate 11 times greater than other high-income nations, by early February, more people are killed with guns in the U.S. than are killed with guns in our peer countries in an entire calendar year. With the number of survivors of gun violence continuously growing, the need for funding to support them is more important than ever.