Louisville receives $20,000 for new violence prevention program

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Alex Coburn

The United States Department of Justice recently granted the Louisville Committee on Health, Education, and Public Housing $20,000 to support the Louisville Metro Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Planning Project, but because only two members took the time to attend, the meeting ended with no decision on whether or not to accept the money.

The attending members were Marilyn Parker, R-18, and Mary C. Wooldridge, D-3. Barbara Shanklin, D-2, and Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, were considered excused, while Ken Fleming, R-7, was absent.

This project focuses primarily on preventing violence in at-risk communities, with an emphasis on teens and young adults. Louisville was one of five cities along with Seattle, Long Beach, Baltimore, and Cleveland to be given the money, all of whom will also present their plans for violence prevention at an annual national conference held by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“This fund isn’t just given to cities with high crime rates, but also to cities who have been proactive about violence prevention,” said Anthony Smith, the director of the Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Planning Project.  “For Louisville, it’s a mix of both. Louisville and Long Beach are both looking at drug overdose, suicide, and homicide, especially among young African-American males, but we’re also taking a holistic approach to it.”

Smith said the money would primarily be spent on three things: sending representatives from the plan to the national conference, printing literature about the plan, and reaching out for technical assistance.

“In addition to the $20,000, we are also now connected to people who can help further fund our program,” Smith said. “When we applied and were chosen to receive the funds, we also aligned ourselves with opportunities for more funding once we complete our plan.”

Although the plan is still just a draft, it is inspired by the Zones of Hope project, which focused on promoting community resources such as church groups or similar for at-risk youth and their families in areas like Russell, Newburg, and Shawnee.

“We’re going to release our full plan in early December, but I can say that the big goal will be increasing mentorship for young people,” Smith said. “We want to connect at-risk youth to a caring adult that will help them stay on track.”

The plan will also focus on helping families find and utilize community resources, encouraging physicians to start discussing drugs early, and reducing the number of kids exposed to violence.

“We’re always happy to accept grants, and this is going to a good cause,” said Ms. Wooldridge, the committee chairperson .

“I used to work in the ICU and I worked with victims of violence like stabbing or shooting,” said Ms. Parker, “so I can say firsthand that we need a program like this.”

Although the bill was met with enthusiasm by the two present members, Smith will have to wait to see if his project will be funded because not enough members were present to have quorum. The next chance to make a decision on this bill is yet to be announced.