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Long Island gun violence groups want more long-term help after state of emergency extension

Marco Ugarte

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has extended the grant application period for nearly $160 million in gun violence prevention grants.

The funds are part of an emergency declaration enacted earlier this year by Governor Andrew Cuomo to address a 75% increase in gun violence related incidents following COVID-19 lockdowns. The declaration was scheduled to end last week.

Hochul extended the declaration through the end of November, but some said it needs to go further.

“The fact that she has extended the order is fabulous,” said Rahsmia Zatar, the executive director of STRONG Youth, a group that specializes in gang violence prevention on Long Island. “I would love to learn more from her office as to what the longer-term investments are going to be and how that ties in to other initiatives that are happening.”

Zatar said STRONG is a recipient of the emergency declaration funds, but the grants came with very short deadlines.

Latesha Fowler, a program manager for the Long Island violence prevention initiative, Hempstead SNUG, said the funds have helped, but a one-time initiative isn’t enough.

“More is always needed,” Fowler said. “It’s going to have to be a continuous effort to eliminate gun violence as a whole.”

About 30% of the initial funds are still available and community groups can apply until November 22.

John is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.