Washington 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
OLYMPIA, Wash. — 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 Washington — can unlock to support local organizations serving victims of gun violence and their communities.
“Shootings are more than the initial act. After each shooting, there’s a whole community left to bear the financial and emotional burdens,” said Alice Hanify, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, who has survived multiple incidents of gun violence. “There are currently millions of dollars in VOCA funding that Washington hasn’t been using to resource gun violence intervention providers and help survivors of gun violence heal. That is simply unacceptable.”
“This report highlights an important and underutilized way to support survivors and their communities. Washington lawmakers should prioritize making these funds accessible for survivors,” said Cause Haun, a volunteer with Washington Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. “Although VOCA cannot erase tragedy or trauma, it is a critical resource to support gun violence survivors and their communities while they are healing.”
VOCA victim assistance funding comes from a federal reserve, made available every year to each state. However, many state agencies — including Washington’s Office of Crime Victim Advocacy — 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 Tacoma, Spokane and Seattle. 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 for 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.