HAMPTON, Va. - Wednesday, Hampton city leaders voted to formally accept $800,000 in grant money from the Virginia General Assembly. City officials said the money will be used to address poverty and violence within the city.
This comes after a rise in gun violence across Hampton Roads, including a drive-by shooting that happened overnight Wednesday in Hampton on Cunningham Drive. Police told News 3 one man was taken to a hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Rah Morgan has experienced gun violence with his family first-hand.
“I’m an artist. I’m able to use my art as my outlet for the traumas that I’ve experienced,” Morgan told News 3. “I have a cousin that was murdered on the South Side of Chicago. That internal pain you get when you lose a loved one, especially in an untimely fashion, it’s something that you never get over.”
“Hampton is nowhere near the size of Chicago, but that’s not the type of energy this area wants to see,” Morgan added.
Nancy Williams has gone through similar experiences with her family.
“My nephew, he got shot and killed, and we haven’t found his killer yet,” Williams said. “We have to value life. To take someone’s life, they don’t value life.”
According to the city, the $800,000 from the Virginia General Assembly is a one-time grant to the City of Hampton to support an employment program for court-involved youths and adults facing barriers towards getting a job. It would also expand services for those involved or at-risk of getting involved in gun violence and provide counseling or mental health services for those exposed to violence.
Mayor Tuck said from this grant will go to the city's Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities.
“What we’re hoping to do is to use this money to try and elevate individuals through workforce opportunities, workforce development, and other kinds of opportunities that would help raise their income level,” Tuck said. “We believe, by doing that, we can disperse some of the poverty in our city, which a lot of it is concentrated, and also create more opportunities for our youth and young adults.”
Tuck also pointed out separate funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that will also help address crime and poverty.
“Assist in our community service’s board, try and provide more funding for them,” he said. “We’ve hired individuals to do outreach. We’re trying to find folks who are trauma specialists and trauma counselors.”
He also mentioned trying to bring mayors from across Hampton Roads together as part of a regional task force to address violence.
“It’s tragic; it’s not sustainable; it’s not something that we, as mayors, are proud of, certainly,” Tuck said. “We have to do more and increase our efforts; try and do more sharing of best practices, and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Morgan believes therapy is key for the experiences he's been through.
“You have to learn to live with it and make subscriptions to not have those types of things happen in your life again,” Morgan said.
Mayor Tuck said the ARPA funds separate from this $800,000 to help address gun violence total $2.4 million.
Wednesday’s city meeting in Hampton started at 6:30 p.m.