As St. Louis Murders Increase, Anti-Gun Violence Program Needs Funds


St. Louis detectives began work yesterday on the city's 145th homicide case since January. The body of a 25-year-old man was found in a car with multiple gunshot wounds in an area less than two miles square that has already experienced six murders in the past nine months, says St. Louis Public Radio. “It's worse than it has ever been,” said Erica Jones, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in a drive-by shooting in August. The young woman died in her sister's arms. “We do have a lot of young people who doesn't even know the beginning of the impact of what they've done, when it comes to tearing a family apart, when you choose to put your fists down and go pick up a gun,” Jones said.

Gun violence prevention efforts have taken on a new urgency St. Louis grapples with a body count 1.5 times higher than it was at this time last year. Groups spearheading these programs often face challenges to scale up their efforts. The city announced yesterday $60,000 in new funding for Better Family Life, a nonprofit that provides social services throughout the region. The majority of the funds will go to the organization's Neighborhood Alliance Program, which employs outreach workers who go door-to-door in selected neighborhoods, connecting residents with existing resources. The funding follows a $55,000 donation from the city six months ago, but it’s merely a fraction of the $1.9 million that Better Family Life's vice president James Clark says is necessary to ramp up the program. He estimates 50 outreach workers are necessary to serve all of the city's neighborhoods in need. With a current budget of $225,000, the Neighborhood Alliance only employs five full-timers.

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