Bridgeport’s StreetSafe Program That Targets Gangs and Street Violence To Shut Down
Latest Casualty of State Budget Stalemate
(Bridgeport, CT) – StreetSafe, a community-based nonprofit program in Bridgeport that has helped more than 300 at-risk youths turn their lives around, will close its doors on October 1, one of the latest casualties of the ongoing state budget stalemate.
The four-year-old, $420,000 street outreach program is just one of the cuts to RYASAP, which also include a 50 percent reduction in substance abuse prevention services and the potential for a mandatory merger with another provider in January 2018. If a state budget, with the funding included, is approved in the coming weeks, or private funding is secured, the program could be re-instituted.
“I’ve never run a program as valuable as StreetSafe,” Robert Francis, Executive Director of RYASAP said. “Shutdown will jeopardize the lives of young men and women who have been given hope of leaving gang life, supporting themselves and not becoming wards of the state in our prisons.”
In the absence of a state budget, nonprofit community providers that contract with the state have been receiving limited funding under Governor Malloy’s Executive Order. Overall, the EO has reduced funding by about $150 million to human service programs across the state, with further reductions as the stalemate continues. Most providers receive monthly payments for services provided.
StreetSafe is a non-law enforcement program that provides direct intervention and case management 24 hours a day, seven days a week by outreach workers who are formerly incarcerated people who have returned to the community. The wrap-around services help move young people between the ages of 14 to 24, from gangs by getting them jobs, housing, substance abuse treatment, therapy for PTSD and an education, Francis said.
RYASAP is a member of the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, a statewide membership organization that advocates for the state’s nonprofit providers who contract with the state to provide vital human services to half a million people every year.
“Community nonprofit providers understand that the state’s fiscal situation is thorny, but vulnerable people are increasingly at risk. Connecticut not only needs a budget, but one that fully funds vital services,” Gian-Carl Casa, President and CEO of The Alliance, said.