Missouri 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
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —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 Missouri — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“For every shooting, there’s a whole community left to bear the large financial and emotional burdens that are often overwhelming,” said Leslie Washington, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, whose former abusive partner threatened her with a gun multiple times during their relationship. “Missouri can do more with the millions of dollars in VOCA funding available to resource gun violence intervention providers and help survivors of gun violence heal.”
“We see tragic gun violence in our state on a daily basis and far too often the financial burden is an extra weight that families and communities are left to bear,” said Lynda Stewart, a volunteer with Missouri Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Nothing can erase a tragedy, but VOCA funding can help survivors rebuild and heal.”
“The pain of a mother after losing a child to gun violence is indescribable,” said Rosilyn Temple, founder and executive director of KC Mothers in Charge. Local organizations serving victims of gun violence are crucial in disrupting the cycle of violence and helping survivors heal. 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 Missouri’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 Kansas City and St. Louis. 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.