A coalition of community partners is urging New Jersey officials to use federal COVID relief funds to keep afloat a suite of programs designed to help and protect victims of violence.
They were told in July that federal funding would end for nine hospital-based violence intervention programs across the state, and they are now pushing for a permanent solution before any operation is forced to close.
“These programs shouldn’t be dependent on subsidies, period. These are life-changing services,” Liza Chowdhury, project director of the Paterson Healing Collective, told New Jersey 101.5.
Since its launch in late 2020, the Collective has provided bedside services to more than 130 gunshot victims, as well as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other acts of violence, Chowdhury said.
HVIPs work to create a safety plan for clients and assist with employment, food security, insurance, and emergency housing, among others.
“We are a complementary strategy to public safety. The police cannot do everything on their own, and we cannot ask them to,” Chowdhury said.
The New Jersey Violence Prevention and Intervention Coalition held a press conference in Newark on Tuesday to draw attention to the urgent need for funds. For now, the Attorney General’s office, which manages federal Victims of Crime Act funds, is working with the programs to process and provide extensions that would allow them to continue operations through June 2023.
“The Attorney General’s Office is actively working with the Governor’s Office to secure funding for HVIPs when current federal VOCA funds are exhausted,” a spokesperson added.
Since the 2019 announcement of the hospital-based initiative, the state has expanded this approach with new funding and programs, including $10 million in current and previous state budgets for community response. against violence, the office said.
The Coalition is calling for the immediate release of $10 million in “gap funding”, from New Jersey’s share of the US bailout, to keep HVIP services running smoothly. It is also seeking a long-term investment of $80 million in ARP funding over the next three years to stabilize programs.
“With the loss of this funding, response programs will have to fire our teams and stop lifesaving work that prevents repeat violence and retaliation,” said Daamin X Durden, executive director of the Newark Community Street Team. “We hope the ARP dollars can be used immediately to support community response work to prevent these closures.”
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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