by Quincy Thomas
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On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman urged Congress to provide nearly $400,000 to Jacobi Hospital’s youth violence reduction program – ‘Stand Up to Violence.’ This press conference followed a violent Memorial Day, in which more than a dozen were shot and a 15-year-old Bronxite was killed in shootings across all five boroughs.

The funding would be used to add a mental health services component to the Stand Up to Violence (SUV) Program. Modeled after the Chicago based Cure Violence program, SUV deploys outreach workers to respond to shootings to prevent retaliation and to assist family members of those who have been injured or killed. Additionally, they mentor at-risk youth on educational and job opportunities. The additional $400k would allow SUV to add an emergency room social worker, case worker, part time psychiatrist and a creative arts or music therapist.

“I’m proud to support with my colleagues Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman, additional federal funds needed for the excellent violence prevention and reduction program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. Youth who have participated in the program we want to advance, Stand Up to Violence (SUV), are 52% less likely to be injured in another violent trauma post program completion. It’s critical that we ensure this program is funded to support the family and friends, especially the youth, of gun violence victims to prevent the ripple effect after violence tragically occurs,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“As a father and as a former educator, I am thinking of the trauma that our communities have gone through — not just due to COVID over the past year, but the trauma that these communities have been going through for decades,” said Rep. Bowman. “The Stand Up to Violence Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi and other Cure Violence programs around the country are exactly what we need to rethink, reimagine, and redesign public safety. Now it’s time to fully invest in them and increase their capacity to address mental health, and that is why I am proud to advocate for this Community Project Funding to bring transformative change to our community and save lives.”

“When you actually open the door to a jail, and look at who’s inside, an enormous amount of people are dealing with untreated mental health issues. And it is not acceptable for us to use jails as garbage bins for human beings. We need to treat people and see them as human. And so it is not a place for us to throw people for whom we don’t want to invest in the actual holistic issues of their lives. If we want to reduce violent crime, if we want to reduce the number of people in our jails, the answer is to stop building more of them. The answer is to make sure that we actually build more hospitals, we pay organizers, we get people mental health care, and overall health care, employment, etc. It’s to support communities, not throw them away,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

“We deeply appreciate the efforts of Leader Schumer and Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman to provide funding to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi’s Stand Up to Violence (SUV) Program to help address gun violence, a public health issue nationwide,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “The program is rooted in the idea that violence is a disease, and should be treated with methods and strategies used to fight diseases.”

“SUV’s innovative model has saved lives by preventing violence and retaliatory violence before it strikes,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi’s Chief Executive Officer Christopher Mastromano. “This additional funding will allow us to offer wraparound therapeutic treatment to patients to help address root causes of youth violence, and make it possible to reach more Bronxites and do more to stop the disease of gun violence.”

“My heart breaks for the victims of gun violence whose lives were lost this past holiday weekend. The epidemic of gun violence continues to take innocent lives from our communities across the Bronx and New York City, and it is part of our responsibility as legislators to advocate for the necessary support and resources our grieving communities urgently need. The Stand Up to Violence Program and its partnership with the Jacobi Hospital have had an invaluable impact on the Bronx community. I stand with Senator Schumer, Representative Bowman, and Representative Ocasio-Cortez in advocating for additional mental health resources and funding for the Stand Up to Violence Program,” said Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

Both Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez requested the funding for Jacobi’s Stand Up to Violence (SUV) in May as part of their ‘community project funding’ requests – aka ‘earmarks.’ In the spirit of transparency, more background on the Congresswoman’s community project funding process, along with a list of her other earmark requests, are available here.

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