Philadelphia City Council gives preliminary approval to fiscal 2022 budget

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council on Thursday gave its preliminary approval to a fiscal 2022 city budget that invests over $155 million in violence prevention programs to curb escalating gun violence.

City Council members are saying this now marks a new era for combating gun violence in Philadelphia.

"From a paradigm shift standpoint, we are reimagining gun violence prevention," said 2nd District Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.

"We can no longer afford to keep doing the same old things, funding the same old contracts and getting the same old results. Five hundred murders last year, we're on track to exceed that this year," said 4th District Councilmember Curtis Jones.

$30 million of the new funding will go toward 911 triage, mental health co-responders and jobs programs.

$49 million will fund healing and prevention safe havens, along with out-of-school and summer programs for youth.

About $7.1 million will be directed to further jobs training workforce led by the Commerce Department.

"I think it's exactly what we need. I think it solves the problem as opposed to putting the Band-Aid on the symptoms," said Jennifer David of Center City.

"I'm glad to see the city is trying to do something that cuts the problem at its root," said Benny Seltzer of Brewerytown.

One of the nonprofits that councilmembers specifically named to likely benefit from this budget was the Nomo Foundation, which is located on North Broad Street.

Action News stopped by Thursday and watched as teens learned financial literacy.

"A lot of the hurt that we have in Philadelphia -- it's financial," said CEO Rickey Duncan.

He says his life was changed by a mentor and now he's giving it back. He said it's proof this needs strategy will work.

"Instead of giving them arrest records we need to give them entrepreneurship, get them a credit history," said Duncan.

Final passage of the budget is scheduled for June 24. The city has to pass a budget by June 30.

Read some of the budget agreements released by City Council Thursday night:

VIOLENCE PREVENTION & OPPORTUNITY/JOBS



The budget approved today invests more than $155 million in gun violence prevention programs and opportunity and jobs initiatives - strategies to curb a wave of gun violence that has Philadelphia on a pace to set records in homicides and shootings this year. The city experienced 499 homicides and over 2,400 shootings last year.

Highlights of the added funding and ongoing violence prevention efforts include:
  • $30 Million in additional spending by the Kenney administration that includes 911 triage/mental health co-responders, group violence intervention, jobs initiatives, and restored funding for parks and recreation and the Free Library

  • $49 Million to community organizations, including $20 Million in healing, prevention, safe havens and community empowerment initiatives with input from City Council, plus $28 Million for out-of-school and summer programming for children, and $500,000 for targeted community investment grants

  • $7.1 Million for Jobs training & workforce development led by Commerce Department


  • $1.5 Million for two new Curfew Centers

  • New Normal Jobs Initiative ($10 Million in FY21)

  • Anti-Violence Resources Network

  • Enhanced security cameras at recreation centers

  • Stronger, commonsense gun laws - ongoing lawsuit against Commonwealth of PA.


NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION


The budget agreement supports financing for the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI), a $400 Million citywide program approved by Council to preserve neighborhoods across Philadelphia. NPI will:
  • Construct thousands of new affordable homes

  • More inclusive construction workforce - job training, apprenticeships

  • Expand contracting opportunities for Black and Brown businesses

  • Preserve existing affordable rental units

  • Keep homeowners in their homes with repair grants

  • Create homeownership opportunities for Philadelphians -- provide down payments and closing costs

  • Assist disabled homeowners - adaptive modification grants

  • Prevent evictions -- funding programs such as Phila. Eviction Prevention Program ($3 Million)

  • $6.5 Million to the Phila. Land Bank for vacant property and lot acquisitions

  • Stimulate small business growth - revitalizing neighborhood commercial corridors

  • NPI should generate 16,000 jobs & $1.5 Billion in economic activity over 4 years


POVERTY REDUCTION



The budget agreement continues investments in Council's Poverty Action Plan, an ambitious, long-term strategy to address Philadelphia's deep-rooted problem that includes a quarter of the city's population living in poverty. The plan includes:
  • Invest $20 Million in Poverty Action Fund (FY21 & FY22 combined)

  • Spurring $5 Million in added private philanthropy

  • Obtain over $450 Million in federal & state benefits for Philadelphians

  • Create public-private partnership with United Way, with the goal of lifting 100,000 Philadelphia residents out of poverty by 2023


ARTS & CULTURE


A citywide process led by Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists and arts and culture organizations in Philadelphia, and led to recommendations by a special committee to invest more strategically in artists and arts groups - with a focus on neighborhoods.
  • The budget invests nearly $7 Million more in the arts & culture, hospitality and tourism sectors across all Philadelphia neighborhoods.


SCHOOLS


City Council consistently supports the needs of the School District of Philadelphia and the several hundred thousand children in city and charter schools. Council has continued to support schools this past year by:
  • Holding hearings and working with the District to ensure preparedness for after-COVID-19 career opportunities for graduates, based on labor market needs

  • Holding hearings to ensure the District is prepared to spend an added $1.3 Billion coming to schools through President Biden's American Rescue Plan

  • The most COVID-safe schools exceed ventilation standards due to retrofits supported by the Philadelphia Energy Authority and Council, saving 38% on their energy bills, or $375,000/year per school. More retrofits are planned.


POLICE REFORM


Throughout 2020 and into 2021, Council has heard the pleas from Philadelphians for necessary reforms in policing. This budget agreement includes:
Residency requirement for new police recruits
  • $14 Million over Five-Year-Plan to outfit Philadelphia police officers with tasers

  • $7.2 Million to fund behavioral health mobile crisis units & crisis hotline

  • $2.1 Million to operate Citizens Police Oversight Commission


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