PHILADELPHIA CREAM – Philadelphia City Council has given preliminary approval to a 2022 city budget that invests more than $ 155 million in violence prevention programs.
The budget also funds a $ 400 million program to create affordable housing, preserve neighborhoods and boost job growth, supports efforts to lift Philadelphians out of poverty, continues police reforms, and initiates additional funds to revitalize the arts.
The final adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 24.
“The quality of life in a lot of these neighborhoods is just not where it should be and it’s just unfair,” said Philadelphia City Council Darrell Clarke.
In an ongoing battle against the outbreak of gun violence, council members say the city’s new budget responds directly to it.
“We have seen years and years of divestment, years and years of divestment to provide opportunities for our young people,” said Kenyatta Johnson, board member.
On Thursday, they announced $ 155 for the prevention and timeliness of gun violence. Of this, $ 70 million is spent on extracurricular and summer programs, vocational training, trauma care and funding for groups that already have boots on the ground but whose number of children they can help is limited.
“We can no longer afford to keep doing the same old things by funding the same old contracts and getting the same old results,” said board member Curtis Jones.
VIOLENCE PREVENTION & OPPORTUNITY / JOBS
Highlights of additional funding and ongoing violence prevention efforts include:
- $ 30 million in additional spending by the Kenney administration which includes 911 triage / mental health co-responders, group violence intervention, employment initiatives and reinstated funding for parks and recreation and the free library
- $ 49 million to community organizations, including $ 20 million for healing, prevention, safe shelters and community empowerment initiatives with the contribution of city council, plus $ 28 million for after-school programs and summer for children, and $ 500,000 for targeted community investment grants
- $ 7.1 million for employment training and workforce development led by the Ministry of Commerce
- $ 1.5 million for two new curfew centers
- New Normal Jobs Initiative ($ 10 million in FY21)
- Anti-violence resource network
- Improved security cameras in recreation centers
- Stricter gun laws and common sense – lawsuit underway against Commonwealth of PA.
PRESERVATION OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The budget accord also supports funding for the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI), a $ 400 million city-wide program. NPI will include the following:
- Build thousands of new affordable homes
- More inclusive construction workforce – vocational training, apprenticeship
- Expanding procurement opportunities for black and brown businesses
- Preserving existing affordable rental housing
- Keep homeowners in their homes with repair grants
- Create homeownership opportunities for Philadelphians – provide down payments and closing costs
- Helping Homeowners with Disabilities – Adaptive Modification Grants
- Prevent evictions – fund programs like Phila. Eviction Prevention Program ($ 3 million)
- $ 6.5 million at Phila. Land bank for the acquisition of vacant properties and land
- Stimulate Small Business Growth – Revitalize Neighborhood Trade Corridors
- NPI is expected to generate 16,000 jobs and $ 1.5 billion in economic activity over 4 years
The budget accord continues investments in the Council’s Poverty Action Plan, an ambitious long-term strategy to address the deeply rooted Philadelphia problem that includes a quarter of the city’s population living in poverty. The plan includes:
- Invest $ 20 million in the Poverty Action Fund (FY21 and FY22 combined)
- Stimulate $ 5 million in additional private philanthropy
- Get over $ 450 million in federal and state benefits for Philadelphians
- Create a public-private partnership with United Way, with the goal of lifting 100,000 Philadelphia residents out of poverty by 2023
ART & CULTURE
A city-wide process led by council members Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists and arts and cultural organizations in Philadelphia, and led to recommendations a special committee to invest more strategically in artists and arts groups – with a focus on neighborhoods.
The budget invests almost an additional $ 7 million in arts and culture, hospitality and tourism in all neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
The City Council consistently supports the needs of the Philadelphia School District and the hundreds of thousands of children in municipal and charter schools. The Council continued to support schools over the past year by:
- Hold hearings and work with the district to ensure post COVID-19 career opportunities readiness for graduates, based on labor market needs
- Hold hearings to ensure the district is prepared to spend an additional $ 1.3 billion on schools as part of President Biden’s US bailout
- The safest schools against COVID are exceeding ventilation standards due to renovations backed by the Philadelphia Energy Authority and Council, saving 38% on their energy bills, or $ 375,000 / year per school. Further renovations are planned.
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, the council has heard calls from Philadelphians for needed policing reforms. This budget agreement includes:
- Residency requirement for new police recruits
- $ 14 million on five-year plan to equip Philadelphia police officers with tasers
- $ 7.2 million to fund behavioral health mobile crisis units and a crisis hotline
- $ 2.1 million for the operation of the Citizen Police Oversight Commission
Commissioner Outlaw speaks as Philadelphia sees increase in gun violence
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