Minnesota 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
ST. PAUL, Minn.— 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 Minnesota — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“After every shooting, there are so many things that survivors have to bear, including emotional, physical and financial burdens” said Jarren Peterson, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, whose boyfriend, James Cole, was shot and killed about a mile from their home while giving a friend a ride on November 16, 2014. “One way to alleviate just a portion of these costs would be for Minnesota to use all available VOCA funding to help survivors begin to heal.”
“Minnesota survivors of gun violence need more than just thoughts and prayers from state officials and agencies,” said Jessica DeWeerth, a volunteer with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Unlocking VOCA funding for service providers can help survivors heal.”
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Minnesota’s grant administering agency — are not utilizing all 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 Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. 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.