No new solutions to city's gun violence crisis
Federal health officials and the city's top leaders pledged at a closed-door meeting Wednesday to boost collaboration around efforts to reduce soaring levels of violence in Philadelphia.
Yes, but: The meeting didn't lead to any new anti-violence solutions, officials told reporters after it ended.
Why it matters: It was the first time the Department of Health and Human Services regional office corralled together Mayor Jim Kenney, police commissioner Danielle Outlaw, school leaders and others to address violence in the city, which has hit record levels.
The big picture: Homicides so far this year reached 337 as of Wednesday, up 3% over the same time last year.
- That's after homicides reached a record high in 2021, fueled by gun violence, which accounted for nearly 90% of the deaths.
Zoom out: The uptick in homicides in Philly has been exacerbated by the pandemic and reflects national trends, HHS Region 3 director Ala Stanford, who called for the meeting, told reporters Wednesday.
- Firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death among people aged 1-19 in the U.S. in 2020, according to CDC data.
What's happening: Stanford said she would probe whether existing programs and efforts funded by the HHS in the city are operating effectively.
- HHS provides millions of dollars to fund school-based mental health services, community programs that address high-risk youth and families, violence prevention efforts and more in Philly.
What they're saying: Kenney said he hoped the meeting would allow federal and city officials to "coordinate resources better and communicate better."
- "This is a process that we're going to continue," he said.
- The mayor reiterated his belief that reducing access to guns is the best solution to reducing violence.
Of note: The city invested more than $200 million in anti-violence efforts in this year's budget, an increase over last year.
What's next: HHS and city officials are expected to meet again in December.
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