Combatting gun violence through jobs

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BINGHAMTON, NY – New York State is using jobs as a possible antidote to a surge in gun violence among teens and young adults across the state including Binghamton.

Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon presided over a roundtable discussion with local and state officials and various community leaders this afternoon in the State Office Building.

Binghamton is one of 20 cities in New York with identified hot zones where shootings are on the rise.

The state plans to partner with various non-profits to offer a comprehensive approach to identify 196 at-risk youth and connect them with services that will help them land jobs.

And they’re looking for community leaders to help encourage them to begin the job search.

“A lot of times, people self-select. They go. ‘Oh, they’re not going to want me. I’m not going to be good for that job. I don’t have enough training.’ That’s okay. We’re going to give you the training, we’re going to give you the support, we’re going to give you wrap-around services. If you have childcare issues, we’re going to help you with that. If you have housing issues, we’re going to help you with that. Do you need transportation to get to that training center? Let’s talk about how we can help yopu with that. So, you’re not alone just walking into a workforce board saying, ‘Help me.’ You’re going to have a whole community behind you,” says Reardon.

Reardon says there will also be a mental health component and the state will look to deploy so-called violence interrupters, trained advocates who can meet with gun violence victims and their families in hospitals to encourage them not to resort to retaliation.

Of the 196 youth, 46 will be teens who are offered summer employment through the state until school returns in the fall.

The goal is to then work with another 150 between the ages of 18 and 24 to find them long-term jobs.

Broome-Tioga Workforce New York Executive Director Bob Murphy says the 750 thousand dollars the state is providing to assist with supportive services will be a big help.

“We have one year to do 150 which doesn’t sound that much, but it is a bigger challenge than it sounds. Because you really have to get people within that year ready to get to employment. There are a lot of employers, there are a 1,000 plus jobs in our area,” says Murphy.

The hot zone is identified by 3 local zip codes, 13901, 13904 and 13905, all primarily in the City of Binghamton.

Murphy says his agency has already started developing partnerships with the Binghamton City School District, Cornell Coopertaive Extension of Broome County and the Broome County Urban League to discuss ways to encourage targeted youth in those areas to look for work.

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