Photo: A message of Hope: Philly Mayor Jim Kenney at a public address Thursday before placing his 2021-22 Budget Proposal before City Council. He heralded investments in programs for job training and community improvement.
CITY BUDGET 2021-22
Mayor Kenney to City Council: More money for Community Programs
Hope in the face of the 33% Increase in killings so far this year
By Ted Behr
The sad murder of a man at 53rd and Baltimore and wounding of a 6-year-old child highlighted last Wednesday punctuated the need for programs that foster activities and programs that impact at-risk neighborhoods in Southwest.
The accelerating gun-violence – like the shooting at Christy Recreation Center on March 12 – made more community-based programs a priority as Mayor Jim Kenney made his budget address yesterday. Job training, vacant lot cleanups and graffiti coverups may not seem like high impact responses, but they underscore the kind of activities that employ otherwise idled residents and brighten city streets.
Of great interest to Southwest residents is a $5 million item to help reorient the city’s response to emergencies where mental health concerns may be involved.
For its part in fighting the violence upswing, City Council has come forward with the Violence Prevention and Opportunity Agenda for the coming year. It includes a $400 million Neighborhood Preservation Initiative with funds for low-income housing, preventing evictions, and revitalizing commercial corridors like Baltimore, Chester, Woodland, and Elmwood Avenues. This investment may be augmented if Congress approves President Biden’s recommendation of $5 billion in anti-poverty spending.
Along these lines, local organizations have proposed a $100 million grants program for efforts based in schools, parks and recreation centers In locales like Southwest, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson supported these advocates, saying, “$100 million out of a $6 billion budget is nothing.”
Joel Wilson of the North Philadelphia chapter of the 100 Black Men’s initiative to help local youth also supported the $100 million figure. In challenging “economic racism” and pouring money into law enforcement, Wilson added ironically, “The solutions are here,” Wilson said to the Inquirer. “The city has just been extremely organized in not doing them,”