For immediate release: August, 19, 2021
Contact: Jolene Nieves Byzon, 215-300-1071
Philadelphia, PA – As part of its ongoing commitment to transparency around how the City of Philadelphia spends taxpayer money, the Office of the City Controller released an analysis of the Kenney administration’s $155 million in budgeted anti-violence spending for fiscal year 2022 (FY22). Today’s release also includes a funding explorer tool that allows individuals to filter programming by amount, new or existing funding, and spending type, as well as providing a detailed description of the programming.
“Given the magnitude of the gun violence crisis gripping our city and the funds the City is dedicating to address it, we need transparency around the City’s plan. We must understand what is being funded in order to hold the administration accountable and ensure that these taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently,” said City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. “While many of the initiatives being funded are important and worthy of investment, I believe additional funds should be dedicated to intervention strategies that have been found to reduce shootings and homicides in the short-term. These interventions must be targeted to the neighborhoods most affected by gun violence and to the individuals most likely to shoot or be shot. It is the best way to stop the violence now.”
In examining the anti-violence initiatives funded, the Controller’s Office found 70 percent of the City’s total anti-violence investment in FY22 is directed to programming and strategies that seek to mitigate the risk of gun violence in the medium term (prevention), like re-entry and juvenile justice services, or address the root causes of gun violence and improve the economic and social dynamics of communities in the long-term (transformation), like blight remediation and poverty reduction services. These initiatives often take years or decades to achieve a measurable reduction in homicides and shootings. Included in this funding is the restoration of some pandemic-related cuts to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Free Library. As part of this analysis, we found some of this funding is planned to support general city operations and pre-existing programming.
Meanwhile, only 21 percent of budgeted anti-violence spending is targeted to intervention efforts to interrupt violence in the short-term (intervention). These kinds of strategies address gun violence happening right now and target individuals and groups most likely to be involved in gun violence, typically showing results in one to three years. Examples include Group Violence Intervention and Community Crisis Intervention Program, both of which received additional funding in FY22, bringing the total funding for both to $6.6 million in FY22.
The remaining 9 percent of budgeted anti-violence funding is comprised of new funding to improve the identification of 911 calls related to mental health crises and improve coordination with behavioral health specialists during police responses. This funding, while an important investment, is not specifically focused on reducing gun violence.
For the analysis, the Controller’s Office examined the FY22 budgetary line items comprising the $155 million in funding, categorizing the funding as intervention, prevention or transformation efforts as defined by experts in the field of violence prevention and reduction. The Kenney administration uses its own categories for its anti-violence priorities: Community Empowerment; Healing; Prevention; Employment and Careers; and Safe Havens for Youth and Families.