(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser recognized National Reentry Month and announced that approximately 200 residents who have been identified as most at risk of committing or being victimized by violent crime have been matched with interagency service teams for urgent connection to services. The Mayor made the announcement at His and Hers restaurant in Ward 5, which is owned and managed by DC native and resident Paul Winestock. Winestock, who served 23 years in federal penitentiary, provides resident training and employment opportunities through his organization, Saving Our Next Generation. He also manages a Clean Streets Team and the Safe Passage program at Anacostia High School.
“We know that a relatively small number of people are responsible for a significant amount of the gun violence happening in our communities. What we are doing is reaching out to those people, listening to them and figuring out what they need, and then working with them to get them on a better, safer path forward,” said Mayor Bowser. “We also know that no one person or agency can do this work alone. We need community members like Paul, who have these lived experiences and who know how to create better and safer opportunities, working with us. We also need to make sure every resource and all of our programs are being used effectively to help the people who need them most – and that’s what the People of Promise initiative will help us do.”
The initiative, which is called the People of Promise initiative, is targeting the approximately 200 residents who have been identified by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) as being at highest risk of involvement in gun violence in the District. Each person has been assigned a multidisciplinary team to include a Credible Contact, a Pathfinder, and a member of Mayor Bowser’s cabinet.
The primary goal of the initiative is to disrupt cycles of violence, poverty, and incarceration through consistent engagement with individuals and connections supports and services. Credible Contacts are staff from the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) or the Department of Corrections (DOC) who utilize community connections to find individuals in the community and build trusting relationships with them to learn more about risk level, stage of readiness, and service needs. ONSE Pathfinders assist Credible Contacts with service navigation and track outreach and service delivery efforts to measure progress. The participating cabinet members will lead the multidisciplinary teams and conduct case reviews with Pathfinders and Credible Contacts and assist with troubleshooting difficult service needs and ensure requests directed to programs and services under their purview are quickly resolved.
The Mayor’s FY23 budget includes a $1.7 million investment that will strengthen this initiative by adding approximately 20 Life Coaches to provide intensive and high-quality care coordination services. The Mayor’s budget also includes $251 million to build a new DC Jail that will better support rehabilitation and reentry.
The Life Coach program is part of a package of more than $80 million in non-police interventions. These investments include:
- $11.4M to support returning citizens with financial assistance through community-based organizations, financial coaching, and peer navigators as they transition back into the community
- $9.7M for additional violence interrupters and $390K for additional credible messengers
- $12.7M for youth safety initiatives, including an expansion of Safe Passage, out-of-school activities for youth, and enhanced training for school resource officers
- $6.6M for DBH, DDOT, and DPW to respond to non-emergency 911 calls for mental health distress, minor traffic crashes, and parking complaints
- $7.7M to support 110 dedicated year-round employment opportunities through the Department of Public Works for individuals at risk of gun violence
- $4.5M for DC Pathways to serve an additional 100 individuals at risk of gun violence and $8.5M to provide more wrap-around support services including Pathways Champions positions for at-risk individuals, Project Empowerment support services, intensive care coordination, housing assistance/relocation, and transportation support
- $2.5M to expand trauma-informed mental health services
- $2.2M for temporary safe housing for residents involved in gun violence
- $1.5M for community investment grants to carry out neighborhood action plans in focus neighborhoods