Gov. Hogan announces $500k for Baltimore Safe Streets initiative

Posted at 3:16 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 18:57:59-04

On Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $500,000 in funding for the Baltimore Safe Streets initiative.

The money will be enough to allow the program to operate through next January. According to the governor's office that will give the incoming city administration time to "work with federal, state, and philanthropic partners to develop a long-term sustainability plan."

The Baltimore City Health Department runs Safe Streets. The program employs reformed felons as violence interrupters, working the same streets and neighborhoods they once ruled. Their outreach work has led to impressive results. In 2015, they interrupted 700 conflicts that were likely or very likely to have resulted in gun violence.

The program costs $1.2 million to operate in four city neighborhoods.

But earlier this month, the programs long-term survival came into question when Governor Hogan announced $80 million in spending cuts. Caught up in those cuts was $1 million used for Safe Streets Baltimore and the City Health Department warned most sites would have been closed by the end of the calendar year and the entire program dissolved by the end of the fiscal year.

Now it's been given a reprieve.

"The Safe Streets program is a critical anti-violence tool that plays an instrumental part in our efforts to reduce violence in Baltimore," said Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young. "I would like to thank Governor Hogan for his partnership and for providing Baltimore with the resources needed to help build a safer city. In the coming months, I plan to work with the Governor, city officials and members of Baltimore's philanthropic community to ensure long-term funding for this important program."

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leanna Wen, critical of the initial cuts, also thanked the governor for the bridge funding, adding a new report from Johns Hopkins reinforces the positive impact Safe Streets has in its neighborhoods. According to Wen, that report will show Safe Streets has a "larger effect on reducing non-fatal shootings than any other single public safety strategy in Baltimore."

"Three of our sites have previously gone a year or longer without a firearm homicide, including our Park Heights location, which recently eclipsed 365 days without a deadly incident," said Wen.