Amid criticism from the left that the White House and Congress haven’t done enough to stop gun violence, the Biden administration has been underwriting an initiative that’s drawn barely any notice. On the campaign trail, Joe Biden pitched community violence intervention as a component of his gun violence prevention plan. Once he took office, Biden secured many millions of dollars that can be used for community violence intervention, which he and advocates say is critical for reducing recidivism rates, Politico reports. On Thursday, the White House marked the end of its 18-month initiative known as the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative. For a year and a half, city and county leaders have received funding, training and technical assistance, and met regularly with White House officials to bolster community violence intervention programs that have been shown to break cycles of violence. These programs often connect former gang members and other high-risk individuals with mental health care and other social services.
Some involved in the initiative say 18 months isn’t long enough to complete the work. They said it could be years before the program yields results that can be quantified and measured. Advocates say that community violence intervention programs are vital for reducing recidivism rates and improving health and socioeconomic outcomes. Expanding current community violence intervention programs takes time, money and infrastructure. Some program providers fear funding could dry up. While the White House collaborative exceeded the expectations of local officials, building up infrastructure for community-based public safety programs requires more resources and time than a year-and-a-half long initiative can provide. Two buckets of American Rescue Plan funding — $350 billion in flexible state and local funding and $122 billion in school funding — could be used for community violence intervention initiatives. An additional $250 million was included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act this summer for violence intervention, and via executive action, federal agencies made changes to 26 existing programs to support the work. The biggest roadblock was convincing congressional appropriators that these programs needed funding.