How many lives can you save with $350,000? The city wants to find out

How many lives can you save with $350,000? The city wants to find out

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars can buy a lot of things, but is it enough to curb Louisville’s deadly violence?

Experts behind the Group Violence Intervention program say the answer lies in how the money is spent. Louisville Metro Council’s allocation of $350,000 to fund GVI is supposed to go toward hiring youth outreach specialists. These are people trained to gain the confidence of young people likely to either kill or be killed in gun violence, and keep them alive and out of jail.

“If this funding is being allocated to help that, and the focus is those who are driving the violence and most at risk ... it’s money well spent,” said Paul David Smith, of the National Network for Safe Communities.

Business leaders supporting GVI applauded the city’s decision.

“I’m thrilled because when a group of us first decided to move forward on GVI, we weren’t sure how much momentum and interest we would get from a lot of the parties who were involved,” Tandem Public Relations CEO Sandra Frazier said. “And I think it’s a terrific vote of confidence.”

Louisville just came off of a record year for violence that left 173 people dead and 586 wounded. Mayor Greg Fischer said he supports the city’s investment. He attributed the 2020 spike in violence in part to the disruption of adult mentoring and guidance due to COVID-19.

”For instance, community centers, or even with some of our younger people that are involved in violent crime, schools being closed, sports not being played where you’ve got adult influences around you that can keep you on a productive path,” Fischer said.

The $350,000 was directed to the city’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. The Office director did not respond to WAVE 3 News’ request for an interview regarding the allocation and how it will be spent.

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman, a vocal supporter for GVI, declined to comment on the city’s decision.

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