Anti-violence effort sets its sights on Bowdoin-Geneva

A three-year project aimed at reducing crime by creating opportunities for people in the Bowdoin-Geneva community will begin in the new year. The Boston Public Health Commission announced that it will use a $1 million grant from the federal government to fund the Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) Initiative, which has already been piloted in Mattapan and Grove Hall.

“We’re excited to have been selected for this grant, as it gives us the chance to work with Bowdoin-Geneva residents to help build on the strengths of the neighborhood in a way that creates opportunity for residents, supports community cohesion, and ultimately culminates in the reduction of violent crime,” said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, in a statement issued last week.

Proponents of the VIP effort say that the program starts with a “year-long planning and data collection process” that will launch with a series of community meetings expected to begin in January. (Dates and venues have not yet been provided to the Reporter.) Years two and three, according to BPHC, will “carry out the work of implementation.”

The funding comes from a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant, which was made available by the Obama administration through a competitive bidding process. The larger federal effort is intended to “support crime reduction through strategic neighborhood environmental design and community building” by developing “place-based, community-oriented, data - and research-driven strategies that address crime and create opportunity for residents.”

The Bowdoin-Gevena VIP effort — according to public health commission staff— is intended to support work already going on with agencies like the Bowdoin Street Health Center, St. Peter’s Teen Center, College Bound Dorchester, and the Main Streets initiative.

“When people feel strong ownership in their communities and are out there building community and connecting with their neighbors, that has an impact on crime rates,” said the program’s director, Tania Mireles. “Bowdoin-Geneva residents work hard to take care of their community and support one another. We’re glad to be able to support their efforts.”

It will be important for the Bowdoin-Geneva program to not duplicate efforts of existing programs, but to support and help to highlight the ongoing work. Clear goals should be stated up front and shared with the broader community. More targeted resources are sorely needed. Here’s hoping they will be put to good use and well coordinated.

Looking ahead: The Reporter will publish its final edition of 2016 next Thursday on a normal schedule. We invite our readers to share their thoughts on the year past — or to look ahead at neighborhood goals and aspirations— by submitting a letter to the editor.

What do you count among the highlights of the last year in our community? What’s at the top of your agenda in 2017? We hope to hear from you and then share your ideas with your fellow Reporter readers. Please send along your comments to newseditor@dotnews.com by Mon., Dec. 26, at 4 p.m.

Finally, we wish all of our readers and advertisers a joyous, safe, and warm holiday week. Merry Christmas to all.