Oakland, CA – On Friday, Governor Newsom announced an unprecedented $200M investment in the California Violence Intervention Program (CalVIP) – the largest ever investment by any state in community violence intervention and prevention efforts.
The Governor’s Budget included baseline funding of $9 million ongoing for CalVIP, which provides competitive grants to cities and community-based organizations to support services such as community education, diversion programs, outreach to at-risk transitional age youth, and violence reduction models.
The May Revision includes an additional $200 million one-time General Fund across the next three fiscal years for the Board of State and Community Corrections to expand this program. These funds will help make California a national leader in violence prevention efforts, by supporting community programs that focus on those at the highest risk of violence.
“We’ve spent the last year watching the gun violence epidemic and COVID pandemic intersect in horrifying ways – gun homicides in California spiked by 46 percent, and our country suffered the largest one-year increase in murders on record,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. “But today, the Governor gave us renewed hope and reason to celebrate. This is what meeting the moment looks like when it comes to gun violence in California: responding to unprecedented spikes in violence with historic funding to reverse that trajectory.”
CalVIP-supported initiatives focus on protecting and healing individuals at highest risk of violence, and include hospital-based violence intervention, targeted street outreach, conflict mediation, violence preventive counseling services and peer support, relocation assistance away from dangerous circumstances, and group violence intervention “Ceasefire” initiatives.
And these initiatives work – communities that received CalVIP funding during the 2018 cycle saw homicides decrease by 3 times more than those that did not receive CalVIP support. And in 2019, these programs helped California reduce gun homicides among the highest risk age group (15-29 year olds) to the lowest rate since 1970.
But the impacts of the pandemic effectively undid much of this historic progress. In the last three months of 2020, California suffered a 69 percent increase in gun homicides compared to 2019. January 2021 was the single deadliest month for gun homicides in California since 2007. These dramatic spikes shone a spotlight on the urgent need for increased investment and emergency funding.
“This $200M investment of our tax dollars to fund peace and community based public safety is the kind of leadership we desperately needed in California,” said Pastor Michael McBride, Director of Faith in Action’s LIVE FREE campaign. “Thank you Governor Newsom for demonstrating California’s commitment to shifting how we respond to trauma and violence in Black and brown communities. Blessed are the peacemakers!”
The $200M investment marks the largest ever investment by a state in community violence interventions. Another state leading in community violence intervention funding, Massachusetts, currently invests just under $25 million in programs like CalVIP (for a state with 1/12 as many gun homicides). New York, another leader, invests $20 million annually with 1/3 as many gun homicides as California.
“Safety and security cannot be a privilege enjoyed by some, it must be shared by all,” said Paul Carrillo, Community Violence Initiative Director for Giffords Law Center. “For too long, many leaders’ responses to gun violence ignored or under-invested in intervention programs that can achieve enormous lifesaving results. But today, Governor Newsom demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing the root causes of gun violence through direct investment in programs proven to save and improve peoples’ lives. We thank him for this leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure his proposal becomes a lifesaving reality.”