Louisville mayor calls for more funding for programming in response to youth gun violence
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg called for more funding for youth programming, community centers and job training Tuesday in response to a recent report showing young people have been disproportionately involved in the city’s gun violence crisis.
Researchers with the local nonprofit Greater Louisville Project looked at Louisville’s spike in homicides since 2020 and its impact on young residents. They found that, in 2021, sixty people between the ages of 16 and 25 were murdered in Louisville, far more than the majority of its peer cities. Young people were also disproportionately found to be suspects in cases of gun violence.
Speaking at an event marking the release of the report, Greenberg said too many kids in Louisville don’t have hope for the future and don’t see an alternative to crime.
“We need more programming for our kids to keep them engaged so we don’t lose them to a life of crime,” he said. “This programming needs to include more spaces where kids can feel safe and be active, at community centers, in parks, in libraries, in art studios, on athletic fields.”
It’s unclear where funding for services Greenberg supports — like expanding hours at community centers, after-school programming and meals for kids who struggle with food insecurity — would come from. He did not say whether the city would put more dollars toward these initiatives this year. Greenberg will propose a city budget to Metro Council in April.
Greenberg also said Louisville Metro is working to expand its outreach to victims of gun violence and their families. He said “impacted people and their communities” need to know that the city is listening to them and working to reduce crime.
One thing that needs more attention, Greenberg said, is how the proliferation of illegal guns is a driver of violent crime in Louisville.
“There are simply too many guns in the wrong hands, and it's too easy for our children to access them,” he said.
Greenberg acknowledged that state law bars city governments from creating their own firearm regulations. He encouraged attendees, including community members and policy makers, to help Louisville lobby the Kentucky General Assembly to “take action and allow us in Louisville to crack down on illegal guns.”
The report from the Greater Louisville Project found that between 2011 and 2021 local officials cut funding by 37% for four core city departments that work with youth.
Metro Council allocated $24 million to the city’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods last year to launch new violence intervention programs and provide trauma counselors to communities impacted by gun violence. But the report notes that money will have to be spent by the end of 2024.
Greenberg said that while the city is “approaching the end of a period where programs like the American Rescue Plan have provided one-time funds that won’t always be available,” that won’t change his administration's commitment to investing in violence intervention programs.
Earlier this month, Greenberg announced the creation of an Office of Philanthropy headed by former University of Louisville Co-Vice President of University Advancement Mariana Barzun. He said Tuesday that securing funding for public safety programs will be one of that office’s goals.