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Illinois State Budget Includes $788,500 For Violence Prevention In Chicago Neighborhoods -- What Do Lawmakers Hope To Accomplish?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Shootings this past weekend left a total of five people killed and 54 wounded, and shootings overall in Chicago are up 18 percent this year compared to last.

Now, we have learned that a chunk of money in the Illinois state budget, currently on Gov. JB Pritzker's desk, is marked for violence prevention in four specific West Side Chicago neighborhoods dealing with rising crime.

CBS 2's Tara Molina found they are some of the same neighborhoods that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Supt. David Brown say they're targeting in the city's summer safety plan.

Molina sat down with Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) to talk about this chunk of state money, what it will actually do to prevent violence, and when we could see it at work in neighborhoods that are struggling with violence.

We have tracked crime and violence on Chicago's West Side for years. In the West Humboldt Park community, there has been an uptick - even during last year's stay-at-home order.

The city's Summer Safety Strategy highlights West Humboldt Park and several other neighborhoods - identified as the 15 most violent police beats in Chicago that account for more than 50 percent of the violence in the city.

"The city is divided up into 22 geographic districts within those districts. We have certain neighborhoods blocks that are segmented into beats. So these 15 beats are ones that we know are going to be the most challenge based upon historical crime trends," Mayor Lightfoot said in announcing the Summer Safety Plan on May 28.

The mayor added in announcing the plan that it's broken up into four areas, two on the South Side and two on the West Side of the city.

"The first one is comprised of Austin North Lawndale and west, the second zone is West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park. The third is, Auburn Gresham and Greater Grand Crossing. And the fourth is South Chicago and South Shore in each zone," Lightfoot said. "We did a deep dive, to understand the conditions on the ground, the assets and opportunities."

We know of the city's plan to flood those neighborhoods with preventative resources this summer.

Now we know the state has plans to bolster that, with more than $700,000 in state dollars set aside in the current budget for violence prevention - specifically in the West Side neighborhoods most affected by violence.

"Every night, you turn on the TV and see different shootings," Harris said. "There's a real effort this year to try to break some of the cycles that have contributed to these outcomes year after year after year."

Harris introduced the massive budget amendment mentioning the money to target violence in Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, and the neighborhoods on the Near West Side.

State Violence Prevention Money
(Credit: CBS 2)

The exact language in the budget document is as follows: "The amount of $788,500, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority for a grant to City of Chicago for violence prevention and reduction in West Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, and Near West, including administrative costs."

"We want to put money into stopping this so that we stop it for years to come, not just for one summer," Harris said.

So, what exactly does $788,500 do here?

"We're directing violence interrupter money to get to immediate causes of violence," Harris said. "But we're are also trying to put a lot of money into community mental health, into trauma-based care, intto special programs for high school-aged youth."

Molina is told some of those programs will target gang violence - something we know the city is focused on, too.

The state's new fiscal year starts July 1, which is when Molina is told we could start seeing this money make an impact. With the budget still on the governor's desk as of late Monday, we will make sure to track that closely.

The Mayor's office isn't saying much about the state funding Monday evening. A spokesperson told Molina that the city's Department of Public Health will allocate the money, and it will go toward the following nonprofits:

• Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO)
• Breakthrough Urban Ministries
• Major Adams Community Committee
• Institute for Nonviolence Chicago (INVC)

Chicago Police have not commented.

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