Two-Year Grants Will Allow Seven Programs in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Albany, Erie and Onondaga Counties to Expand Anti-Gun Violence Work and Increase Services for Victims and Families
New Funding Announced as New York State Marks National Crime Victims' Rights Week
Governor Hochul Issues Proclamation, Directs State Landmarks to be Illuminated Blue, Green and Orange Tonight to Recognize the Importance of Victims’ Rights and Access to Justice
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced more than $6.3 million in federal funding that will allow seven programs in Brooklyn and Manhattan and Albany, Erie and Onondaga counties to expand their anti-gun violence work and increase critical services for victims and families. Administered by the New York State Office of Victim Services, the two-year grants will fund outreach staff to connect with victims and families, crisis responders, licensed social workers and other staff, as well as training, equipment and emergency funding for essential items such as clothing, housing and transportation expenses.
“New York will never waiver in its commitment to ensuring that victims of gun violence and other crimes can access services wherever and whenever they need them,” Governor Hochul said. “We are taking a comprehensive approach to tackling gun violence while also ensuring all New Yorkers, no matter their race or background, are treated with dignity and respect. This funding will allow programs to expand their reach and provide individuals and families with critical help and support, including mental health services to address trauma resulting from long-term exposure to community violence.
Governor Hochul announced the grants and issued a proclamation designating this week as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in New York State. The Governor also directed that the following state assets be illuminated blue, green and orange – the colors designated for this year’s national observance – tonight, April 27, to recognize the importance of victims’ rights and access to justice:
- One World Trade Center
- Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
- Kosciuszko Bridge
- H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
- State Education Building
- Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
- Grand Central Terminal - Pershing Square Viaduct
- Empire State Plaza
- State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center
- Niagara Falls
- The “Franklin D. Roosevelt” Mid-Hudson Bridge
- Albany International Airport Gateway
- The Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex
- Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal
Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “OVS is proud to support these programs and the important work they are doing in communities grappling with significant increases in gun violence since the onset of the COVID pandemic. They are not only responding in the immediate aftermath of a crime but providing long-term support and services to help individuals and families readjust to life and move forward after a traumatic event.”
State Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “We continue to hear loud and clear from communities that more is needed to address the devastating impact of gun violence. I commend my colleagues at the Office of Victim Services for working closely with community organizations to streamline access to this critical funding for victims of crime. These grants will help serve more New Yorkers, provide vital resources for communities, and complement programs, including SNUG Street Outreach, that DCJS supports on the ground. I thank Governor Hochul for her continued leadership to prevent and reduce gun violence and the significant resources that she secured in the recently enacted budget.”
Director of the New York State Office of Gun Violence Prevention Calliana S. Thomas said, “Helping to bring an end to gun violence and the suffering it causes in our communities begins with providing the necessary resources to build resilience and prevent violence before it happens. This increased funding is a testament to Governor Hochul’s commitment to prevent and reduce gun violence through New York State by funding trusted community partners, who are uniquely able to further support families mourning the loss of a loved ones.”
Senator Chuck Schumer said, “One of the best ways to reduce gun violence is by increasing the resources to experienced local organizers and groups who have the relationships to prevent violence and to de-escalate dangerous situations. I am proud to deliver the over $6 million in federal funds for Community Violence Intervention programs from Buffalo to Brooklyn to help avert incidents of gun violence before it happens by showing young people there are opportunities for a better future. New York has long been a leader in CVI, and these programs time and time again show they are extremely effective, that is why I’ll keep fighting to bolster funding to these lifesaving programs to keep our communities safe.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “Over the past few years, we have witnessed a disturbing rise in violent crime across our nation and state. We must do more to combat gun violence and to support victims and their families, and this is an important step in the right direction. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Hochul to fight crime and keep our communities safe.”
Representative Hakeem Jeffries said, "Gun violence threatens and affects all of us, especially our children. It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to end this tragic scourge, make our streets safer and support the community members impacted by individual and collective trauma. I thank Governor Hochul for designating $6.3 million in federal funding, including $1.5 million to Elite Learners and $980,000 to Kings Against Violence Initiative in right here Brooklyn, to expand anti-gun violence programs and provide much-needed support and services for victims and families."
State Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “Gun violence is a complex problem in need of comprehensive solutions. I, along with former Assemblymember and now Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Richardson, sponsored the Community Violence Intervention Act because violence interruption groups have a proven record of stopping the cycle of violence before it starts and addressing the most immediate needs of victims, survivors and communities. I'm grateful to Governor Hochul and OVS for making it easier for groups in my district to apply for and receive this needed funding, which will help them serve more people and plan for the future. I encourage OVS to continue to look for ways to ensure VOCA funding is readily available to the groups doing this critical work on the ground.”
Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “Under the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Asian Legislative Caucus, New York has prioritized utilizing trauma-informed approaches to address rising violence in our neighborhoods. Regardless of when and where violence occurs, prevention policies will enable us to reduce access to illegal firearms and enhance the overall safety of residents. Ensuring continual investments in community based organizations will help address the root causes of violence, improve health outcomes, and break the cycle of harm in marginalized communities.“
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “There are many rivers that feed the sea of gun violence and we must dam them all. The NYPD has already removed 2,300 guns from our streets this year alone, but even a single gun can inflict a demonstrable amount of pain on New Yorkers and create new victims of gun violence every day. Together, in partnership with Governor Hochul and law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level, we're working to cut off the flow of illegal guns into our city, and we’re investing in support services for the victims left by the trail of gun violence. I thank the governor for today’s funding announcement and her willingness to dedicate the resources necessary to support victims of gun violence.”
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “Governor Hochul’s continued support of SNUG and other proven gun violence prevention programs has helped reduce shootings by more than 30% in 2021. I commend Governor Hochul for demonstrating once again that justice and public safety can - and must - go hand-in-hand to keep our residents safe.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for supporting the great work of ECMC's SNUG program which has a demonstrated track record of effectively using a trauma informed approach to care for those who have either witnessed or been a victim of gun violence. Their work helps break the cycle of violence, which ruins people's lives and destroys neighborhoods. These violence prevention efforts and restorative practices are a critical component of our City's comprehensive strategy, which also employs effective law enforcement and job opportunity creation, to reduce the gun violence that is effecting cities across the Nation."
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “Increased resources to turn back gun violence was one of the critical priorities I shared with Governor Hochul’s team when it starting building the state budget. We asked for multi-year funding to expand anti-gun violence programs and assist victims and their families. These two year grants to organizations on the front lines in Syracuse and Onondaga County show the Governor listened and responded. We need every resource possible to overcome gun violence and assist our children, and I appreciate Governor Hochul’s help for Syracuse.”
Shaina Harrison, Education Director for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Education Fund, said, “Every day, we meet with young people in New York City's schools who have been directly impacted by gun violence and our students and their families are in dire need of more support," said "This Community Violence Intervention Act grant will now allow us to have a special focus on providing trauma support services to youth victims of gun violence. We thank New York State for this funding to provide life-saving trauma support and to empower young people to break the cycle of violence in their communities.”
Trinity Alliance Chief Executive Officer Harris Oberlander said, “Trinity Alliance is grateful to the Governor and State of New York for their support in providing the resources to hire a coordinator for our many SNUG violence prevention outreach worker and clinical and case management programs and staff. Coordination of our efforts between cities and our team members will enhance our ability to continue to address violence in the Capital Region.”
Buffalo Rising Against Violence at ECMC (BRAVE) and SNUG Street Outreach Program Director Paula Kovanic Spiro said, “The BRAVE and SNUG programs in Buffalo are beyond excited to receive additional funds from the Community Violence Intervention Act. In an effort to address the youth gun violence in the City of Buffalo, we have collaborated to develop a high-risk youth violence team. This team is an interagency working group of staff from BRAVE / the Trauma Center, Law Enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, Erie County Restorative Justice, Victim Service Providers, Buffalo Public Schools and community partners to identify and engage high-risk youth victims of gun violence and/or their families in an effort to create wraparound case management to address current victimization in an effort to stop the ‘revolving door’ of gun violence.”
McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Colleen Merced said, “The funding will enable McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center and our partner in this initiative, Street Addiction Institute, to reach out to our community and help reduce trauma created by gun violence and enhance our prevention efforts.”
Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI) Co-Executive Directors Anthony Buissereth and Ramik Williams said, “All violence in our communities has devastating impacts on the lives of victims, their families, and neighborhood residents. These funds enable KAVI to strengthen the care and support that helps victims heal from trauma while rebuilding their lives and expands our reach in Brooklyn and throughout the state. This investment from Governor Hochul and OVS bolsters tackling community violence through a comprehensive approach that promotes wellness, healing, and restoration.”
Elite Learners Inc. Executive Director Camara Jackson said, “I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for selecting Elite Learners as one of the organizations to receive funding to expand our violence intervention work and truly support our community members who are in need of services and immediate support. The work of our dedicated outreach staff members in Central Brooklyn has produced wonderful results in gun violence reduction and delivery of services to vulnerable community members. We could not do this work effectively without assistance from our partners. Governor Hochul’s generous support will enable us to do much more.”
The Community Violence Intervention Act annually designates a portion of the state’s federal Victims of Crime Act funding for programs serving communities hardest hit by gun violence. This investment builds upon the Office of Victim Services partnership with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which funds social workers and case managers at 12 state-supported SNUG Street Outreach programs. The SNUG program treats gun violence as a public health issue by identifying its source, interrupting the transmission and treating it by engaging communities and connecting individuals to services and support.
Governor Hochul’s extension of Executive Order 211 allowed the Office of Victim Services to streamline its application process and work directly with programs interested in obtaining the funding. The following organizations will receive $6.36 million over two years:
- Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub (Manhattan): $1.95 million
- Elite Learners (Brooklyn): $1.5 million
- Kings Against Violence Initiative (Brooklyn): $980,000
- McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center (Onondaga): $670,000
- New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (Manhattan): $580,000
- Erie County Medical Center (Erie): $430,000
- Trinity Alliance (Albany): $250,000
Office of Victim Services staff continue to work with other programs eligible for Community Violence Intervention Act funding and the agency is slated to award additional grants. Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub, Elite Learners, Kings Against Violence Initiative, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence are receiving OVS grants for the first time.
With the addition of those four organizations, OVS now funds 232 victim assistance programs statewide. Additional information about those programs is available through OVS Resource Connect, a user-friendly online platform that allows individuals to find help by searching for a specific concern or need, or by zip code or location. Since being launched in Spring 2021, OVS Resource Connect has averaged about 1,000 users a month.
In addition to funding victim assistance programs, the Office of Victim Services provides a critical financial safety net for individuals and/or their family members, helping those who are eligible with medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and support, in addition to other assistance.
To that end, OVS provided more than $18 million in financial assistance to victims of crime and their families in 2021. New York is the only state in the country with no limit on reimbursement for medical bills or counseling, which means individuals receive help for as long as they need it. Funding for crime victims’ compensation is generated by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain individuals convicted in state or federal court.