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October 26, 2021

New gun violence prevention hub in West Philly to address root causes, aid victims

Housing multiple organizations under one roof will better communication and resource distribution, members say

Crime Gun Violence
Philadelphia Violence Resources kat wilcox/

The West/Southwest Collaborative Response to Gun Violence brings together government, grassroots and academic organizations into one space to address the root causes of the issue and aid victims.

A new multi-organizational effort seeks to address Philadelphia's gun violence problem by housing several government, grassroots and academic groups in the same space. 

The West/Southwest Collaborative Response to Gun Violence seeks to enhance communication between the organizations and improve resource distribution. Its members say the hub will help them fulfill their mission to address the root causes of violent crime, including poverty and trauma, in West and Southwest Philly neighborhoods. 

The collaborative, based out of the offices of the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia at 5548 Chestnut St., will include the District Attorney's Office's Crisis Assistance, Response and Engagement for Survivors Unit. 

"Our gun violence crisis, in all of its complexity, requires similarly complex solutions," District Attorney Larry Krasner said. "That's why the WSW Collaborative is so crucial. This prevention-oriented approach, an approach that my administration has embraced and lifted up from Day One, is a creative and solutions-based way of tackling this public health and safety problem, because it's using what we know works. Meeting the needs of survivors, co-victims and the community is very often the best way to prevent tragedy and avoid the last resort of incarceration."

The collaborative is designed to put services closer to where the violence happens, so the organizations can respond more quickly. The collective will focus its efforts on "hotspots" where poverty and violence are high.

The group will evaluate the success of its model is and replicate it in other areas of the city.

The other participants include the Beloved Care Project, a youth outreach organization, and the Penn Injury Science Center, an injury control research center funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Anti-Violence Partnership provides victim support services, crisis counseling and other resources to victims of violent crime. 

"The impact of gun violence has really created a need for collaborative responses," said Rev. Myra Maxwell, director of the D.A's CARES program. "This community hub will allow us to better partner with the organizations that really support families and the community in ways that we have not been able to do. It will allow our CARES team to more quickly respond to crime scenes, and connect homicide co-victims to a continuum of services and expand supports for them — and not just in the hours and days after a tragedy."

The announcement came after another deadly weekend of violence in the city. Two people were killed and four others, including a pregnant woman, were injured in West and Southwest Philadelphia last weekend, KYW reported.

There have been 453 homicides in the city this year, up 13% from the same time last year, city data shows.

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