PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia City Council gave its preliminary approval to a fiscal 2022 city budget that invests over $155 million in violence prevention programs.
The budget also funds a $400 million program to create affordable housing, preserve neighborhoods and spur job growth, supports efforts to lift Philadelphians out of poverty, continues reforms in policing, and commits additional funds to revitalize the arts.
Final passage of the budget is scheduled for June 24.
"The quality of life in a lot of these neighborhoods is just not at the level it should be and it’s just unfair," Philadelphia City Council Darrell Clarke said.
In an ongoing battle against surging gun violence, council members say the city's new budget directly addresses that.
"We have seen years and years of disinvestment, years and years of disinvestment of providing opportunities for our young people," councilmember Kenyatta Johnson said.
On Thursday, they announced $155 going to gun violence prevention and opportunity. $70 million of that is new money going to out-of-school and summer programs, job training, trauma care and funding for groups who already have boots on the ground but have been limited in how they can help.
"We can no longer afford to keep doing the same old things, funding the same old contracts and getting the same old results," Councilmember Curtis Jones said.
VIOLENCE PREVENTION & OPPORTUNITY/JOBS
Highlights of the added funding and ongoing violence prevention efforts include:
- $30 Million in additional spending by the Kenney administration that includes 911 triage/mental health co-responders, group violence intervention, jobs initiatives, and restored funding for parks and recreation and the Free Library
- $49 Million to community organizations, including $20 Million in healing, prevention, safe havens and community empowerment initiatives with input from City Council, plus $28 Million for out-of-school and summer programming for children, and $500,000 for targeted community investment grants
- $7.1 Million for Jobs training & workforce development led by Commerce Department
- $1.5 Million for two new Curfew Centers
- New Normal Jobs Initiative ($10 Million in FY21)
- Anti-Violence Resources Network
- Enhanced security cameras at recreation centers
- Stronger, commonsense gun laws – ongoing lawsuit against Commonwealth of PA.
The budget agreement also supports financing for the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI), a $400 million citywide program. NPI will include the following:
- Construct thousands of new affordable homes
- More inclusive construction workforce - job training, apprenticeships
- Expand contracting opportunities for Black and Brown businesses
- Preserve existing affordable rental units
- Keep homeowners in their homes with repair grants
- Create homeownership opportunities for Philadelphians -- provide down payments and closing costs
- Assist disabled homeowners – adaptive modification grants
- Prevent evictions -- funding programs such as Phila. Eviction Prevention Program ($3 Million)
- $6.5 Million to the Phila. Land Bank for vacant property and lot acquisitions
- Stimulate small business growth – revitalizing neighborhood commercial corridors
- NPI should generate 16,000 jobs & $1.5 Billion in economic activity over 4 years
The budget agreement continues investments in council’s Poverty Action Plan, an ambitious, long-term strategy to address Philadelphia’s deep-rooted problem that includes a quarter of the city’s population living in poverty. The plan includes:
- Invest $20 Million in Poverty Action Fund (FY21 & FY22 combined)
- Spurring $5 Million in added private philanthropy
- Obtain over $450 Million in federal & state benefits for Philadelphians
- Create public-private partnership with United Way, with the goal of lifting 100,000 Philadelphia residents out of poverty by 2023
ARTS & CULTURE
A citywide process led by Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists and arts and culture organizations in Philadelphia and led to recommendations by a special committee to invest more strategically in artists and arts groups - with a focus on neighborhoods.
The budget invests nearly $7 Million more in the arts & culture, hospitality and tourism sectors across all Philadelphia neighborhoods.
City council consistently supports the needs of the School District of Philadelphia and the several hundred thousand children in city and charter schools. Council has continued to support schools this past year by:
- Holding hearings and working with the District to ensure preparedness for after-COVID-19 career opportunities for graduates, based on labor market needs
- Holding hearings to ensure the District is prepared to spend an added $1.3 Billion coming to schools through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan
- The most COVID-safe schools exceed ventilation standards due to retrofits supported by the Philadelphia Energy Authority and Council, saving 38% on their energy bills, or $375,000/year per school. More retrofits are planned.
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, council has heard the pleas from Philadelphians for necessary reforms in policing. This budget agreement includes:
- Residency requirement for new police recruits
- $14 Million over Five-Year-Plan to outfit Philadelphia police officers with tasers
- $7.2 Million to fund behavioral health mobile crisis units & crisis hotline
- $2.1 Million to operate Citizens Police Oversight Commission
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