Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $1 million in state funding has been awarded to two community-based organizations in Niagara Falls and Utica to establish SNUG Street Outreach programs. Secured by the governor in this year's state budget, the funding expands the program from 12 to 14 communities statewide.
Hochul’s team said, “SNUG uses a public health approach to reduce gun violence by identifying the source, interrupting transmission and treating it by providing services and resources to individuals and families and changing community norms around gun violence.”
She said, "We are taking a comprehensive approach and mobilizing resources to support innovative, effective solutions to violence and violent crime on our streets, and programs like SNUG continue to show great progress. We have seen the positive impact of the SNUG Street Outreach program in areas across New York state, and the additional funding announced today will expand this successful program and help communities and local law enforcement agencies address the scourge of gun violence. My administration will continue expanding and funding the state's network of violence interrupters to support this critical work on the ground."
The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) sought proposals from community-based organizations to operate SNUG programs in Niagara Falls, Schenectady and Utica. Community Missions of Niagara Frontier will receive $500,000 for the Niagara Falls program, and Integrated Community Alternatives Network (ICAN) will receive $500,000 to establish SNUG in Utica.
DCJS will reissue a request for proposals this fall to establish a program in Schenectady due to an insufficient number of eligible applications received; this will ensure a competitive selection process.
DCJS Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, "I have traveled across the state, met with our SNUG team members, and seen first-hand the crucial role they play in combatting gun violence. I have seen their success in overcoming obstacles in their own lives and the change they bring to the lives of other young people by believing in them, helping them believe in themselves and providing at-risk youth with alternatives, opportunities, and support.”
New York State Office of Gun Violence Prevention Director Calliana S. Thomas said, "Community-based and led strategies are critical to the successful implementation of violence prevention efforts. Programs like SNUG prioritize the wellbeing of those most likely to be impacted by gun violence and are best positioned to directly address social determinants of health.”
Niagara Falls, Utica and Schenectady will join the following communities in the state-supported SNUG network: Albany, the Bronx, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mt. Vernon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Syracuse, Rochester, Troy, Wyandanch and Yonkers.
Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, "While gun violence is a national problem, very few people have the courage to look for answers. Gov. Hochul continues to be a leader in the effort to combat this issue, and we appreciate her assistance in providing funding for SNUG in Niagara Falls. SNUG will give our community another tool to attack this problem and help individuals and families caught in this cycle of violence."
Community Missions Specialized Services Vice President Eric Boerdner said, "We're excited to launch the SNUG street outreach program in Niagara Falls, and we thank Gov. Hochul for her support and investment in this critical program. We need to do everything we can to reduce gun violence, and street outreach teams play a pivotal role in reaching out to, and connecting with, individuals at risk of being involved with gun violence, while providing alternatives and support. Community Missions has a longstanding history of implementing programs to engage and meet the needs of the community with our shared partners, and we look forward to meeting the challenge."
Hochul’s team said, “Comprehensive training, site visits and support from DCJS set SNUG apart from other community-based violence interruption programs across the state and country. New staff must complete 40 hours of training, and new supervisors complete 32 hours of management training. All staff must also complete 40 hours of professional development training annually. This ongoing training and support help ensure that the program operates consistently across all SNUG sites despite being operated by different community-based organizations. This video showcases the program and its work with participants.
“SNUG programs employ street outreach workers, hospital responders, social workers and case managers who work in the community and trauma centers. Outreach workers and hospital responders live in the communities in which they work, and some have been involved with the criminal justice system or lost loved ones to violence. These credible messengers leverage their community ties to work with teens and young adults to detect and defuse disputes before they escalate; respond to shootings to prevent retaliation through mediation and assist family members of those who have been injured or killed; and mentor youth involved with the program to set goals and connect them with educational and job opportunities as well as other services. The programs also engage the community, religious organizations and clergy, and local businesses through rallies, special events, and other community gatherings.
“Social workers and case managers provide those affected by gun violence or other crimes in the communities with trauma-informed counseling, support groups, advocacy and assistance with filing victim compensation applications with the state Office of Victim Services, and referrals for other services as identified or needed; and offer support and guidance to SNUG team members, many of whom have had complex experiences with trauma. Social workers and case managers at the 12 existing SNUG sites are funded by federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants from the Office of Victim Services; the new sites will be fully funded with state dollars from this year's enacted budget.”