Virginia 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
RICHMOND, Va. — 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 Virginia — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“The costs — both emotional and financial — of gun violence are almost too much to bear at times,” said Salli Garrigan, who was a high school junior at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 when two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 24 others. “If there’s a way for our state to help gun violence survivors and fund the organizations that support us, they should do it.”
“It’s exciting to see comprehensive gun safety legislation pass this session, but we can’t forget about those who are living with consequences of our lawmakers’ past inaction,” said Tara Taylor, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The price the survivors must pay is hefty and ongoing, but we have organizations in our communities that have been working for years to help. We need our state to unlock VOCA funding to support life saving intervention programs.”
“The effects of gun violence ripple through communities and families,” said Synethia White, Program Manager of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities in Hampton, Virginia. “Wound healing and physical recovery are only the beginning of the recovery period. Having access to increased funding to address the trauma experienced by the victims is necessary to support their path to wellness and restoration.”
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Virginia’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 Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News — where one quarter of all gun homicides happen in Virginia.
- 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.