After the brutal killing of 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz aka “Junior” by gang members in the Belmont section of The Bronx, New York State will be investing $18 million in youth programs and other preventative measures.
Although the monies are a much welcome relief for our communities we cannot say enough that why did it take a tragedy for The Bronx to get this needed funding for youth programming and anti gang measures?
Bronx residents have been clamoring for increased funding for years now especially for youth programming to keep our kids off the streets.
This isn’t something new that Bronxites said overnight, “Hey, let’s get more money for kids.”
I hate to sound cynical and jaded but it is an election year for Governor Cuomo so we have our answer why we’re getting the money now.
Diaz Jr. and Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked to a group of community members gathered on Thursday about the pursuit of “justice for Junior” — a rallying cry shared on social media after the teen’s death — and put an end to children feeling the need to join gangs.
“The gangs are here to fill a void,” Cuomo said. “Lack of family support, opportunities, jobs, relationships. When you have that void, [joining a gang] feeds that need.”
With this investment, Cuomo hopes to “fill that void before it’s created.”
Cuomo said an $18 million investment will be made for programs and services that battle the gang problem from its root.
Included in the investment is $1 million to the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx for a computer lab, to keep the facility open late at night and give children an alternative place to go instead of the streets.
Another $250,000 each will be invested to the Police Athletic League Inc. (PAL) and community-based organizations in schools and in the neighborhood that can help inoculate children from the seduction of gangs and stop gang recruitment.
Mental health programs and counseling in schools will be given an investment of $250,000, and about $5 million will be invested into the Roberto Clemente State Park.
A family resource center that can treat the whole family and provided gang intervention will receive a $2 million investment for more community-based services.
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