Colorado Agencies and Cities Must Work to Unlock Victim of Crime Act Funding to Support and Expand Community-Based Violence Intervention Initiatives
Report Comes During National Gun Violence Survivors Week from From February 1-8
DENVER, Colo. — 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 Colorado — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“For every shooting, there’s a whole community left to bear the financial and emotional burdens,” said Connie Grieshaber, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, whose father, a distinguished purple heart veteran, died by gun suicide when she was 14 years old, following her 18-year-old sister, Chris’s death by suicide in Littleton, CO. “Colorado can do more with the millions of dollars in VOCA funding at its disposal to help even more local organizations working with survivors to heal and prevent further gun violence.”
“In the immediate wake of gun violence, survivors start down a long and costly path to recovery that can be overwhelming,” said Jessica Price, a volunteer with the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand for Gun Sense in America. “VOCA funding can not change what happened, but it is a great resource for our local organizations that are doing the essential work of helping survivors heal.”
“We need to do more to prevent gun violence, while also providing support for those who are already dealing with the devastating physical and emotional costs of a shooting,” said Jonathan McMillan, a Youth Violence Prevention Activist in Denver, Colorado. “State agencies must work to unlock VOCA funding to confront gun violence — we owe it to ourselves, our children and our communities.”
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Colorado’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 Denver, Glendale and Pueblo. 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.