The American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds is helping provide local leaders with an "unparalleled opportunity to address the public health crisis of gun violence," says a new Brookings Institution report.
The funding is supplemented by the more recent Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, became law, which allocates $250 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
Brookings says the federal aid "only scratches the surface of what can be done to keep communities safe from gun violence. From investing in youth employment programs to revitalizing vacant lots to improving the quality of neighborhood housing, a wealth of community-based safety interventions are proven to reduce violent crime—including gun violence—in the places most impacted by it, and tackle the conditions of inequality that allow violence to concentrate in the first place."
The Brookings report documents how state and local leaders are leveraging ARP funds to invest in non-carceral community-based safety initiatives, presents case studies from leaders on-the-ground innovating on such strategies, and recommends how state and local leaders can maximize ARP funds to promote community safety by 2024 (when all funds must be obligated) and 2026 (when all funds must be spent).
Brookings says the U.S. is not in the midst of a crime wave but is experiencing an unprecedented and alarming increase in murders, driven largely by gun homicides..
Gun violence disproportionately occurs in a select set of high-poverty and disinvested neighborhoods, and within these neighborhoods, a select set of streets.
Studies have found a connection between state-sponsored racial segregation and gun violence, with the same places historically deemed unworthy of economic investment (through redlining) being more likely to be where gun violence concentrates.
"Given the many place-based factors that contribute to gun violence, there is growing recognition that just like improving public health in other ways, reducing gun violence requires addressing its social determinants and looking outside traditional systems (such as courts or hospitals) to tackle its root causes," Brookings says.
Brookings offers what it calls curated list of state and local investments in non-carceral community safety interventions, categorized along four key dimensions of community well-being.
The report says that "a promising body of evidence demonstrates that by enhancing economic opportunity and reducing inequality within neighborhoods, places can significantly reduce crime."
Youth workforce development and employment programs can reduce youth involvement in violent crime by as much as 45 percent. Improving school quality has also been found to reduce violent crime arrests.
Helping families avoid financial stress has been found to reduce crime and produce numerous other community benefits.