Safe Streets Baltimore is in danger of losing funding and closing up shop. Governor Larry Hogan's $80 million cut includes money for the violence reducing public health program in Baltimore.
Currently Safe Streets operates in four city neighborhoods on a total budget of $1.2 million.
Without that million from the state, the Baltimore City Health Department says most sites will be shuttered by the end of the calendar year with the entire program dissolving by end of the fiscal year.
Safe Streets is a program that treats violence as a disease by hiring former felons to work those same streets as reformed men interrupting violence and help prevent shootings.
In 2015 alone, the four sites mediated 700 conflicts, 80 percent of which were likely or very likely to have erupted in gun violence.
Upon news of the funding cut, Safe Streets held a rally in front of its newest site in West Baltimore.
"It would force us to really be able to have to look at the viability of keeping the doors open for the programs and I think that is a tough reality we have to face. Not only what it does for us but what does it do for the health of Baltimore in general," said Safe Streets worker JT Timpson.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen agrees. She says defunding this program would have terrible effects in the communities in which it serves and is pleading with the Governor’s Office to take a hard look at the program.
"We have reached out to our entire Baltimore City delegation, we have reached out to multiple members of the Governor's Office and are asking for the governor to please reconsider this decision. This is a matter of life and death. Don't just look at the cost of a program."
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We reached out to the governor’s office throughout the day for comment on this story and received the following statement by email:
“If the majority leadership in the General Assembly was truly committed to funding this program, they would have asked the administration to participate in the process rather than trapping these funds in a budgetary political gimmick. The Hogan administration has provided more than $20 million to Baltimore City to support violence prevention initiatives and remains committed to implementing programs and strategies that create real change in our communities. In fact, members of our administration met with Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis today to discuss ways to enact these kinds of strategies in the future.”
Our follow up questions went unanswered.