State Agencies and Cities Must Work to Unlock Victim of Crime Act Funding to Support and Expand Community-Based Initiatives
Report Comes During National Gun Violence Survivors Week From February 1-8
NEW YORK — 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 dollars of federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) funding available for state agencies to unlock to support local organization working to prevent gun violence.
“American cities, particularly Black and brown communities, are hit the hardest by the gun violence epidemic in this county,” said Michael-Sean Spence, Director of Policy & Implementation at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Within these communities, local organizations are using innovative, evidence-based approaches to interrupt the cycle of violence. We need to properly and sustainably resource these groups, and unlocking VOCA funds would make a world of difference for these local intervention programs and the safety of their communities.”
“The rate of gun violence in this country is not normal, and neither are the lives of survivors after they experience a shooting,” said Sharmaine Brown, whose 23-year-old son, Jared Brown, was killed after being hit by a stray bullet in Atlanta, GA. She is an Everytown Survivor Fellow and founder of Jared’s Heart of Success, an award winning, 501 (c) (3) non-profit. “It takes so much time, money and energy to rebuild after a loved one’s life is cut short, and so many of us have to do it without any support. Our country has the funds available to resource service providers who can help survivors in so many ways. So it begs the question — what are we doing with that money?”
“Black and brown communities have had to piecemeal their healing from the impact of gun violence for decades,” said Anthony Smith, CEO of Cities United. “Unlocking the VOCA funding has the potential to accelerate the healing process and prevent more violence from occurring. This report gives concrete examples of how different stakeholders can better access these funds.”
VOCA funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies are not utilizing the funds, leaving much of the reserve unspent while there are an overwhelming amount of 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. The states featured in the report include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
- 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’s 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. Fifty eight percent of American adults or someone they care for have personally experienced gun violence in their lifetimes. With the number of survivors of gun violence continuously growing, the need for funding to support them is more important than ever.