$45 million of Wisconsin's American Rescue Plan Act funds designated for violence prevention and victim support
In 2020, the city of Milwaukee saw a massive surge in homicides, a 93% increase from 2019 with 189 killings. And the trend is continuing this year, with 160 homicides to date.
That’s in part why Governor Tony Evers announced Wednesday that the state is investing $45 million in federal funding in violence prevention and crime victim services. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“This investment includes $8 million that will go directly to the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention, to support projects that take a public health approach to violence prevention and will help them respond to a pandemic related uptick in violence and trauma,” said Evers.
$6.6 million dollars will be going to the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Violence Prevention Project. It’s focused on research and education and community engagement around violence prevention as a public health matter.
Evers said the money will build on the $75 million dollar investment he announced October 5 in Milwaukee. That money is earmarked for businesses and financial institutions that help people and communities of color.
Governor Evers noted that right before his prior press conference, which was held at the Dominican Center in Milwaukee’s Amani neighborhood, there was a shooting about a block and a half away.
He said someone at that press conference asked him what the support for businesses had to do with violence prevention.
“And frankly, the answer is, of course, everything. From supporting diverse businesses and chambers of commerce, to investing in clean water and lead pipe removal to expanding access to affordable health care and childcare. It's all violence prevention, folks,” he said.
Reggie Moore, Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement with the Medical College of Wisconsin, said the $20 million dollar investment into victim services will be helpful for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. But he said it would help even more people than that.
“Also, gun violence survivors who have trouble sometimes accessing the crime victim compensation fund, or knowing where to receive mental health support, especially for the children who are also directly impacted or may have witnessed a shooting or being present for a domestic violence incident,” said Moore.
Milwaukee activist Vaun Mayes, of ComForce MKE, said money invested in violence prevention that doesn’t involve the police is a step in the right direction.
“I think it is a hell of a move for the state to make a move on this, and it kind of puts our local government in a spot to follow suit,” said Mayes.
The city of Milwaukee is still deciding how to use its nearly $180 million of remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds, and one of the city’s priorities is public health and community resiliency. Proposals will be discussed in the Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee on Friday.