City of Roanoke announces grants to address gun violence prevention

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke is taking steps to address the increase in gun violence throughout the area. City officials and community partners attended a press conference Thursday morning to announce several grants.

Three grants, worth a total of $550,000, are going toward community organizations for gun violence prevention.

William Dungee lost his son seven months ago to gun violence. He explained why he’s passionate to address it.

“No parent should ever have to bury their child,” Dungee said. “I ended up becoming a mentor because I wanted to give back. I didn’t want to just sit around in my grief.”

Dungee now works with Roanoke’s RESET program to prevent more gun violence.

Total Action in Progress (TAP) is receiving $200,000 to focus on relocating at-risk families from hot spots of violence in Roanoke. The president of the organization explained how the money will go toward families who have been affected.

“It will help give victims a fresh start and address multigenerational trauma,” Annette Lewis said.

Carilion Clinic will establish a recovery and support team for survivors in the hospital with a $200,000 grant. Carilion’s medical director of trauma explained how a rapid response team is critical for prevention.

“It’s certainly time sensitive because if the patient goes home, many of those patients don’t come back to our clinic,” Dr. Bryan Collier said. “They probably don’t feel secure in that unfamiliar environment in the medical system.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley plans to fund counseling services at the new Envision Center with $150,000 of the grant.

Roanoke City council member Joe Cobb explained the grant is funding long term solutions.

“While we all want some very quick fixes to what we’re seeing, the reality is we’ve got to change culture, we’ve got to change relationships,” Cobb said. “We’ve got to invest in our relationships with each other.”

The grant announcement comes after Roanoke saw a 21% increase in gun violence from 2020 to 2021. The Department of Justice (DOJ) identified the city as among the localities with the top ten highest increases in gun violence.

“I would prefer that we not have that ranking,” Cobb said. “I think all of our efforts are to reduce that.”

Dungee explained the grant funding from the DOJ is a step in the right direction.

“Nothing is ever enough, but we have to start somewhere. With the grant money, that’s a start. But it takes a village,” Dungee said. “Everybody has to do their part.”

Roanoke plans to use the grant funding within the next two years.