Pennsylvania 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 February 1-8
PHILADELPHIA — 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 Pennsylvania — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“The pain of gun violence doesn’t stop where a bullet does — in fact, the fallout can last a lifetime,” said Laura Fletcher, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, whose cousin remains quadriplegic after being shot outside his front door in a robbery attempt. “If we want to address gun violence as the public health crisis it is, we have to fund the programs that help reduce the root causes. VOCA funding can help our local organizations do that.”
“The movement to prevent gun violence must include efforts to ease the burdens survivors face after a shooting,” said Marybeth, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We have so many local organizations doing the essential work of helping survivors and our community heal. It’s imperative our state continues to support them with VOCA funding.”
“Local organizations working collaboratively to serve victims of gun violence are crucial in disrupting the cycle of violence and helping survivors heal,” said Marla Davis Bellamy,Director of Philadelphia Cease Fire. “But it’s impossible to continue this essential work without funding and resources to sustain the impact. This report highlights how important VOCA victim assistance grants are for an organization like ours and we look forward to seeing the work continued. “
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Pennsylvania’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 Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown.
- 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.