PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Millions of dollars in grants will soon go to Illinois communities adversely impacted by violence, including Peoria.
The funding is made available due to an expansion of the Illinois Reimagine Public Safety Act.
This year, there have been 34 homicides in Peoria with a majority of them being the result of gun violence.
“We can’t just say enough is enough, we can’t just say that it’s unacceptable. Those of us that have been trusted to be in leadership positions have to do the work that we can,” said State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Illinois 92nd District (D).
Through the Reimagine Public Safety Act, over the next three years, $250 million dollars will be directed to organizations in more than a dozen communities to help tackle violence and its root causes. Peoria has been identified as one of the cities where funding will be targeted.
“When we recognize that we have a crisis and we operate as though we have a crisis, we can begin to get our hand around those issues,” Gordon-Booth said.
Areas of focus will include youth development, violence intervention, mental health supports, workforce development, re-entry, substance abuse treatment, and youth intervention.
Tuesday, community and state leaders gathered at St. Paul Baptist Church in Peoria to discuss how they can come together to tackle the issues at hand.
“We’re going to go to the table and go to the chalkboard to figure out what works, what doesn’t necessarily work, and where can we find the support organizations that are doing the work on the ground,” said Chris Patterson, assistant secretary of violence prevention at the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Patterson said the goal of the funding and collaborative effort is to create less death and heartache.
“We have to back to the days where children could play on the streets, where our children don’t know the sounds of gunshots,” Patterson said.
Peoria police Chief Eric Echevarria said meetings like Tuesdays are important in making Peoria safer.
“It just reaffirms that we’re on the right step and the community’s on the right step and everyone wants to work towards the same common goals,” Echevarria said.
Leaders at the meeting are encouraging organizations to apply for funding in time for the summer of 2022.