Aug 31, 2022 - News

Most of Philly's anti-violence spending won't make immediate impact, report says

Illustration of Philadelphia City Hall with lines radiating from it.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: BasSlabbers/Getty Images

A new city report is casting doubt on the Kenney administration's anti-violence strategies and investment, finding the majority of funding won't significantly reduce violence in Philadelphia in the short-term.

Driving the news: City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart's Office released the report Tuesday, detailing how the city will spend the $208 million allocated for violence prevention in this fiscal year's budget.

Why it matters: The city raised its spending on anti-violence programs by 34% this year, compared to last year — when homicides in Philadelphia reached an all-time high.

By the numbers: 71% of the anti-violence spending is geared toward preventative programs that can take five to 20 years to see results, like mental health services and neighborhood revitalization, per the report.

  • 17%, meanwhile, is dedicated to intervention efforts that the city says would reduce violence within three years. These include street outreach and the police department's group violence intervention strategy (GVI), which connects those involved in violent activity with social services.

What she's saying: Rhynhart, a Democrat who won re-election last year and a persistent critic of Mayor Jim Kenney, called the city's spending on short-term violence reduction unacceptable "at a time when gun violence is so devastating to our city."

  • Philly ought to spend at least $20 million more annually on short-term intervention efforts to bring it in line with funding levels seen in New York City and Los Angeles, Rhynhart, who's considering a run for mayor in 2023, told Axios.

The other side: The Kenney administration disputed the report's categorization of some of the funding. City spokesperson Kevin Lessard told Axios 71% of the city's anti-violence budget supports intervention programs that promise progress in the short term.

  • Rhynhart's framing doesn't "provide adequate context to the impact that these initiatives at the current funding levels can have on the immediate crisis," Lessard said.

What to watch: The Kenney administration hasn't yet released evaluations of some of the city's existing anti-violence initiatives, like GVI, raising questions about their effectiveness, the report notes.

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