Philadelphia’s Community Crisis Intervention Program received a $500,000 grant this month from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to reduce gun violence through prevention programs in areas like North Philadelphia.
This grant will expand the program’s budget and allow its extended programs, like the Philadelphia Anti-Violence and Anti-Drug Network, to increase its budget and staff to reach more people at risk.
The CCIP decreases gun violence in high-risk neighborhoods through prevention, rather than reaction. The program aims to help reach people at risk of falling into patterns of violence, said George Mosee Jr., PAAN’s executive director.
“Gun violence is preventable, but in a city with more than a quarter of the population living in poverty, the needs for assistance often extend beyond the capacity of both the City and community groups,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a release in September. “This grant will make a huge difference in our ongoing efforts.”
In Philadelphia’s recent past, over 14,500 people were shot in last 12 years, the Inquirer reported. In the last decade, 83 percent of all homicide victims died as a result of firearms.
PAAN is an outreach program that aims to prevent the development of violence and drug use in high-risk communities around Philadelphia. Professional counselors reach out to at-risk children and families to counsel them, and to teach them life skills. This in turn helps them to receive jobs and an education.
The grant allowed PAAN to hire five new outreach advisers and one additional overseer in its operations, Mosee said.
“[With the new staff] we can expand in additional areas of the city,” Mosee said. “We’re geographically based, and we want to get into the East division and do more in North Philadelphia. This grant will allow us to expand outward.”
Within 12 months of receiving the grant, city officials hope to reduce shootings and gun homicides by 5 percent. Officials also anticipate a 20 percent increase in the use of city services and support by men ages 18 to 34.
“That’s my hope,” Mosee said. “I feel well grounded in having that hope because it’s a proven method. We’re getting ahead of violence, and we can proactively address violence. Defense is the best strategy in this scenario.”
Though most have high hopes for the grant and the impact it will have, some of the students on campus are wary. Upon realizing a majority of the grant is going to outreach programs, some are concerned of the impact it will have compared to enacting stricter gun laws.
“I think we should just be restricting gun laws,” said Marie O’Neil, a 52-year-old social worker who lives on Henry Avenue. “It’s a generational thing.”