Proposed pilot program would distribute public safety grants based on district need

A new pilot grant program being considered by the Indianapolis City-County Council would distribute public safety funds to districts based on need, with councilors choosing how funding should be spent in their district.

Proposal 196 was approved 7-4 Wednesday by the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee along party lines, with one councilor abstaining. The measure establishes a program to award annual crime-reduction sub-grants and community-recovery grants to qualified organizations in Marion County.

It moves to the full council for a vote.

The annual funding amount will be dependent on the council budgeting process. For now, $1.25 million has been set aside for the 25 council districts. That funding comes from an existing $3 million Office of Public Health and Safety fund that provides crime-prevention grants each year to Marion County organizations through the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

The program’s aim is to provide funding to not-for-profit organizations with new or existing programs that show a potential to reduce crime or provide resources to reduce crime in Marion County.

The available $1.25 million will be divided among districts based on a violent crime index assigned to them by Savi, a data service at IUPUI’s Polis Center. That process ensures more funding goes to the neediest areas of the city, rather than dividing it equally among each district, committee chair LeRoy Robinson said.

He said the data Savi collected could be used as an equity atlas for the city as it decides how to divvy up resources in the future.

“This is really the first step to a larger, much bigger initiative,” he said.

The index, which ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the worst score, measures a district’s violent crime rate as well as social determinants of violent crime, including the unemployment rate, poverty rate, households receiving public assistance, education attainment and the number of single-family home households.

Council Districts 25, 4 and 5 had the lowest scores of 0 and 4, respectively. Council District 17, which includes parts of the near-east side and the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, had the highest scores, at 100.

The score assigned to each district was then used to calculate how much of the $1.25 million it would receive, with the average allocation being $50,000 and moving up or down from there based on the score.

District 17, along with Districts 11, 12, 13 and 14, will receive $80,000. Districts 16, 10, 9, 21 and 19 will receive $65,000 each. Districts 22, 15, 7, 8 and 18 will get $50,000. Districts 1, 6, 24, 20 and 2 will get $35,000, and Districts 3, 4, 5, 23, and 25 will get $20,000.

Councilors will choose not-for-profits working within their district to receive the grants, and the Central Indiana Community Foundation would administer the program and distribute the funds.

The proposal goes to the full council next month. If approved, the funding could be available in the next three months or so.

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