FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 22, 2021
Controller Rhynhart: Jolene Nieves Byzon | email@example.com | (215) 300-1071
Councilmember Gauthier: Stephanie Browne | firstname.lastname@example.org | (215) 934-0709
Philadelphia, PA – City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), joined by elected officials, city leaders and community activists, today demanded that the Kenney Administration target anti-violence programming and resources to the 14 ZIP codes (19144, 19141, 19120, 19124, 19140, 19134, 19133, 19132, 19121, 19131, 19104, 19139, 19138 and 19143) experiencing the heaviest volume of gun violence and improve coordination among City departments and community leaders. The demand for action, which was communicated to the Kenney Administration via letter, details a list of steps the administration must take immediately to ensure safe and peaceful communities for all Philadelphia residents, as well as a request for additional information to ensure transparency with the public regarding the administration’s progress to reduce gun violence and homicides.
“Addressing our city’s gun violence is an issue of racial justice. With much of Philadelphia’s violence occurring in just 14 ZIP codes, this crisis is disproportionately impacting Black and brown residents. Investment and resources must be targeted to these specific areas,” said Controller Rhynhart. “Whatever is being done now is not working. We’re here today because we want more from the Kenney administration.”
“My call for an emergency response to the city’s gun violence crisis has never been about semantics. This has always been about action,” said Councilmember Gauthier. “The citizens of Philadelphia, and all of us who stand together today, deserve to know what exactly is being done to bring peace and calm back to our streets.”
In addition to better transparency with the public, the action steps detailed in the letter include:
- The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to immediately and substantially increase programming in the aforementioned ZIP codes;
- The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) and Department of Public Health to coordinate efforts to ensure that all residents in the most affected ZIP codes have access to quality treatment and mental health services;
- The Commerce Department to coordinate with DBHIDS and City partners under the Roadmap to Safer Communities to strategically invest $5.6 million in additional workforce development funding to reach individuals from the aforementioned ZIP codes involved or at-risk of being involved in gun violence;
- The Managing Director’s Office of Community Services to lead public engagement efforts and mobilize a comprehensive community response, including engaging non-profit and for-profit partners;
- The Managing Director’s Office should formalize a Gun Violence Emergency Response Team to meet daily and develop, implement and measure multi-departmental, place-based strategies to respond to gun violence hot spots. All City departments shall cooperate with the Gun Violence Emergency Response Team. The Gun Violence Emergency Response Team should communication actions to the public on a weekly basis, detailing the progress on its goals and the administration’s progress on the goals outlined in the Roadmap to Safer Communities. This effort should include a website in which weekly targets and progress is reported, similar to the Opioid Emergency Response Group;
- The Managing Director’s Office should work collaboratively with City Council to develop a framework to allocate $20 million in additional anti-violence funding from the FY22 budget toward programs that use evidence-based strategies, in particular those that employ credible messengers and create access to services for individuals most likely to shoot or be shot, to reduce gun violence; and
- The Managing Director’s Office of Violence Prevention should lead efforts to expand the Community Crisis Intervention Program in the aforementioned ZIP codes and provide a timeline for increasing staff capacity and the number of outreach workers on the ground in these areas.
In the letter, Councilmember Gauthier and Controller Rhynhart requested a detailed plan with a timeline for implementation of the action steps outlined in the letter from Mayor Kenney by July 30th. Additionally, if the administration states these objectives are already in process, they requested full transparency around the steps taken and progress made.