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Chicago expanding financial assistance program for gun violence victims

Chicago expanding fund for victims of gun violence
Chicago expanding fund for victims of gun violence 02:24

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Brandon Johnson on Thursday announced plans to extend the city's financial assistance program for families impacted by gun violence.

The Emergency Supplemental Victims Fund started in 2022 under former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and originally served five communities. It's now growing to 10 more neighborhoods, providing about $10 million over the next three years. The expansion of the program will be funded with federal stimulus money.

The goal is to ease the financial burden and trauma for survivors of gun violence and their families. The mayor's announcement came two days after the death of 7-year-old Jai'mani Amir Rivera, who was shot outside his family's West Side apartment complex.

"When a 7-year-old is stepping just outside their home and is gunned down, it's an indication of the failures of previous administrations who have been intentional about leaving our communities behind," Johnson said.

Johnson said the communities where financial assistance is available for shooting victims and their families were chosen not only because they face high levels of violent crime, but have seen historical disinvestment, and school closings.

"This crisis did not show up with simply a bullet. This crisis showed up when previous administrations decided to give up on these communities," Johnson said.

Chicago expands financial assistance for victims of gun violence 02:08

Eligible Chicagoans can receive up to $1,000 in assistance for basic needs – such as medical expenses, child care, and groceries – up to $1,000 more for temporary moving costs, and an additional $1,500 for funeral or burial costs. Over 80% of applicants have been approved. 

Kevin Edwards, who was a victim of gun violence last year, said he used the money he received through the program to help pay his medical bills.

"The program is beneficial, and I believe in it," he said.

To qualify, applicants must have been the victim of a shooting within the past calendar year. Families of homicide victims also can apply if the shooting happened in the past year.

Applicants also must live in one of 15 community areas: Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, Back of the Yards, North Lawndale, Roseland, South Lawndale, South Shore, West Englewood, West Garfield Park, or West Pullman.

In addition, the families of any homicide victim aged 24 or younger is eligible, regardless of where they live, if the homicide happened in the city.

Eligible survivors or their next of kin must work with a victim advocate to apply for funding through the program in the community area where the shooting happened or where they live. More information is available on the city's website.

So far, more than 200 gun violence victims have utilized the fund.

"There are so many more who are in need, so many more that are in need of our support, and that's why we're making this strong commitment today," Johnson said.

The announced expansion of the program comes after violence overnight in Chicago, with several people injured in shootings across the city. 

A woman is dead and another is in the hospital after a shooting near 31st Street Beach on Chicago's South Side just after 10 p.m. Officers on the scene found a 22-year-old woman who had been shot three times. She died at the hospital.

The second woman, a 20-year-old, is expected to recover from her physical injuries. Police haven't arrested anyone.

Just after 2 a.m. in the Woodlawn neighborhood, a man was fatally shot and another was injured.

Police said two men in their 30s were standing in a vacant lot, near 67th Street and Langley Avenue, when someone fired shots at them.

No one is in custody.

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