On March 20, U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez visited Cooper Park Houses to present a check for $1M to members of the North Brooklyn Antiviolence and Homeless Prevention Initiative. The notation on the check stated, “Mobilizing and creating successful violence interruption strategies”.
The North Brooklyn Antiviolence and Homeless Prevention Initiative is a collaboration between area organizations: St. Nicks Alliance, RiseBoro and The Wick Against Violence/Southside United HDFC- Los Sures; in addition to the resident councils of NYCHA’s Cooper Park Houses and Bushwick Houses. They have been utilizing a model developed by The Wick Against Violence which diffuses conflicts before they escalate to violence.
Juan Ramos, founder of The Wick Against Violence and executive director of Southside United HDFC- Los Sures, said, “Through the neighborhood safety coalition we created at Bushwick and Williamsburg Houses we were able to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors associated with violence that impact our youth, impact our community, but also use the protective factors that we put in place to continue to create a process where residents themselves take on the process of ending violence in their own community.” He also mentioned engaging the youth in conversation and with activities helps to counter violence in addition to addressing the disinvestment by NYCHA and other disinvestments which lead to violence. Ramos concluded by saying, “What we want to do here is to say we don’t need to carry a gun in the neighborhood because we are all going to make it safe for each other. That means everyone plays a role: adults to young people.”
Velázquez made it clear she was there for the reason behind the check presentation, “I’m here to reaffirm my commitment to support programs and initiatives that will help to reduce violence and create a more peaceful and safer North Brooklyn. I would like this [initiative] to become a model for other cities to implement. Collectively we must continue to create and support antiviolence initiatives that engage young people in the conversation and provide them with the necessary resources and support to steer young people away from violence.” She went on to say she was proud to present the check to the community organizations and resident councils in the initiative. She concluded by saying, “The message here is it takes a village to address violence in our country, but it also takes resources from the federal government to address the issue.”
This funding is part of Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. Congress passed the Act on December 23, 2022, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on December 29, 2022