Utica awarded $600,000 to combat gun violence

20 cities across state to share in $16M fund

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The City of Utica is among 20 locations across the state that will receive part of a new $16 million fund to combat gun violence, according to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

The money will be used to fund workforce training and job placement programs for area youths, officials said.

Under the new program, the state Department of Labor will partner with local workforce development boards in each city and use their vast networks of community partners to provide job training, credentialing and career placement services to connect at-risk youth to good-paying, permanent jobs, officials said.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis, in New York State and across the country, and we’re attacking it with the same comprehensive, evidence-based approach we used to beat COVID. We know that simply telling kids to put the gun down doesn’t work — we have to give them an alternative,” Cuomo said in a release.

“This new funding, for job training and stable, good-paying career placement opportunities for our most vulnerable young people across New York State, does just that. It’s an investment in our economy, in our recovery, and in our security. And it’s a beacon of hope for a generation that too often feels bereft of it.”

Young people ranging in age from 18 to 24 who are unemployed, underemployed and out-of-school will be eligible for the help.

The City of Utica will receive $600,000, with the goal of assisting 120 youths, officials said. Syracuse and Binghamton will both receive $750,000, Albany will receive $950,000, while Buffalo and Rochester will receive the most money, at $2.65 million and $2.25 million a piece.

In addition to each area’s existing network of community groups, youth will be referred by trusted community service providers with priority given to referrals from gun violence interveners and other anti-gun violence advocacy organizations, officials said. Services will also include support services and referrals to partner agencies to assist with housing, legal issues and other barriers to successful training and employment.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said that gun violence is a “disaster emergency,” adding the declaration would make it easier to spend money on efforts to address and reduce gun violence. The Democrat said he was launching an office on gun violence prevention to collect data from the state’s major police departments and that a new Governor’s Council on Gun Violence Reduction will come up with recommendations to address gun violence.

Cuomo didn’t release specifics on the initiatives immediately, including the cost of the new office, how much emergency money or what kind of “resources” would be sent to hot spots, or how exactly the state plans to reduce and prevent gun violence..

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