Cash to gun violence victims: City launches pilot program of grants for funerals, other expenses
The program will start in five neighborhoods. Families in those areas who lose a loved one to gun violence are eligible for $1,500 toward funeral or burial costs. Shooting victims can get $1,000. And those sustaining debilitating injuries can qualify for up to $1,000 in relocation costs.
With Chicago topping 700 homicides for the second straight year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday created an Emergency Supplemental Victims’ Fund to provide cash grants to the families of those killed.
The pilot program will start in five Chicago neighborhoods plagued by gang and gun violence — East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Englewood, West Englewood and New City — before expanding to “more communities in the future,” according to City Hall.
Under the plan, families who lose a loved one to gun violence will be eligible for $1,500 to help defray the cost of funeral or burial costs. Shooting victims from those designated neighborhoods can get $1,000 grants. And those who sustain debilitating injuries, along with their families, can qualify for up to $1,000 in relocation costs. One caveat: they cannot be “identified by law enforcement as the perpetrators of the crime.”
The grants will be administered by a network of “survivor support advocacy groups” bankrolled by the Chicago Department of Public Health. They include Centers for New Horizons, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, and Universal Family Connections.
A press release announcing the new fund quoted Lightfoot as saying, “Supporting victims and their healing is an integral component” to her “community safety strategy.”
“This program will ease the burdens that victims and their families face and will promote safe and healthy communities,” the mayor was quoted as saying.
Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, said she does not view the fund as evidence the Lightfoot administration is somehow throwing in the towel and accepting gun violence as a fact of life in Chicago.
“Unfortunately, in a country with 400 million guns, we’re gonna have a gun violence problem. So having a way to support victims at whatever level is important and long overdue,” Ander said.
“We can’t take our eye off of the goal of dramatically reducing our level of gun violence and we should not consider it just like the weather and sort of nothing we can do about it. We need to keep moving in the direction of trying to dramatically reduce it,” she added.
“But I just don’t think it’s realistic in a country with the kind of guns and gun policy we have that we’re not gonna have any homicides. So, we do need to make sure that we’re supporting victims when those tragedies occur.”