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There’s a new gun violence coalition in Philly. Here are its goals

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In Oakland, members of a similar coalition discovered that just 0.1% of the city’s population was responsible for the majority of gun violence – approximately 400 people, according to the Oakland Police Department. The analysis determined that an individual most likely to be involved in a shooting in Oakland had four of the five following characteristics:

  • A young Black or Latino man ages 18–35.
  • A member of an active crew/gang/group in Oakland.
  • Extensive criminal justice involvement.
  • Previous shooting victim.
  • Has a close friend or family member who was shot in the past twelve months.

The City of Oakland then invested public dollars in community organizations that could provide social services to these high-risk individuals to prevent them from re-offending. Oakland’s homicide tally dropped from 126 to 71 between 2013 and 2017, a period in which community groups and the government were working together on a comprehensive strategy.

Leaders in the new Philadelphia coalition believe they can use a similar strategy to narrow down potential shooters. Quali said that while the city’s roadmap supports many programs that aim to prevent violence in the long term, there aren’t enough that effectively disrupt violence happening now.

“Everything that we’ve learned over the last six, nine months of this journey tells us that if you want to bend the curve in the near term, the focus needs to be on intervention,” he said. “This is the area where we’re now bringing some additional resources.”

An August city spending audit from the Office of the Controller found that only 21% of the total FY 2022 investment was “allocated to evidence-based intervention programs that have been found to yield short-term reductions in shootings and homicides, with the rest of the funding going towards programs that will likely take years to produce measurable reductions in gun violence.”

A 2021 analysis from the department finds Philadelphia spends just $6,000 per shooting victim on violence intervention, compared with roughly $24,000 per person in Los Angeles and $26,000 per person in New York City.

And a recent evaluation of the city program that is focused on direct intervention with potential shooters found that it is falling short on its goals.

Pedro Ramos, president of the Philadelphia Foundation, said the new coalition strives for a world where all voices are at the table, to make a sustainable and executable plan.

“They understand what the outcomes are, they don’t feel like things are changing every couple of years,” he said. “They understand they’re being invested in and they’re making an investment.”

There are already grassroots gun violence prevention efforts across the city. Many of them are spearheaded by mom-and-pop nonprofits and neighborhood leaders who say they operate on shoestring budgets, with the occasional boost from city grants, which are largely short-term and can be difficult to access.

In response, other coalitions are striking up. This October, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia launched the 57 Blocks Project, referencing the 57 historically redlined streets in Black and Brown neighborhoods where homicides are most frequent. This group will focus on environmental improvements, youth services, and trauma-informed care.

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