DeKalb approves $1M in relief funds for violence prevention programs

Three people were killed and three others injured after a shooting Sunday in DeKalb County, according to police.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Three people were killed and three others injured after a shooting Sunday in DeKalb County, according to police.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The DeKalb County commission approved Tuesday the use of $1 million in coronavirus relief funds to help prop up community-based violence prevention programs.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond first proposed the initiative, which will provide grants to existing organizations, during his state of the county address in late April. The original proposal involved paying for the grants with the county’s general fund, but officials said Tuesday they had decided to use federal American Rescue Plan Act money to cover the cost.

The county received more than $73 million through the stimulus plan last year and expects a similar allocation to be delivered in coming weeks.

ARPA guidelines offer significant flexibility for how local jurisdictions can spend their funds. In addition to being available for revenue replacement, premium pay for essential government workers and certain infrastructure investments, Treasury Department rules acknowledge that violence has increased in some communities due to the pandemic and specifically mention allocations to “community violence intervention programs” as eligible uses.

Specifics about how DeKalb will choose local groups to fund were not immediately available. But the resolution approved by commissioners on Tuesday said that, in addition to organizations directly aimed at violence intervention, groups that provide behavioral health services and work to improve employment and educational opportunities would be eligible.

“I appreciate your ongoing concern and your support,” Thurmond told commissioners before their vote. “We will not grow weary in our good-doings in this regard.”

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