by Joe Malinconico
PATERSON — Nine hospital-based programs that help victims of violent crimes — including the Paterson Healing Collective — have gained a reprieve as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has changed its mind about ending their funding.
Murphy and acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin on Monday morning announced that the state would use $10 million of New Jersey’s federal COVID-relief funding to extend the initiatives.
That announcement was made less than two weeks after a story by Paterson Press and The Record disclosed the state’s plans not to renew funding for victim-support programs that started operation in 2020.
The Paterson Healing Collective, in conjunction with St. Joseph’s Health, said it has provided support services and referrals for more than 200 people and their families in the past two years. The services include counseling, health care, employment training and housing.
“The Paterson Healing Collective is pleased to learn that the governor has heard our calls to action so that we can keep doing the life-changing and lifesaving work we have been doing for the last two years,” Liza Chowdhury, the group’s director, said Monday.
“Our survivors and community members rely on our services, and we could not afford to lose the resources that positively impact their lives,” Chowdhury added. “We look forward to continued efforts to sustain [the programs] in the future.”
The governor’s news release was issued on the same day Platkin appeared before the state Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing regarding his nomination to be attorney general.
St. Joseph’s previously indicated that it would provide money to keep the Healing Collective operating in anticipation of the state’s ending its financial support.
“We applaud the governor and the attorney general for recognizing the important role these services play in our communities, and we are grateful for this critical funding on behalf of our many partners,” said Kevin Slavin, St. Joseph’s CEO.
New Jersey’s nine hospital-based anti-violence programs got $20 million from the federal Victims of Crime Act for their first two years of operation. The state then extended the support for another fiscal year, which will end Sept. 30.
But New Jersey’s funding under the federal victims’ program has been decreasing in recent years, from $60 million in 2019 to $44 million in 2020 and $25 million last year. In July, the state began notifying the programs that another wave of funding was not on the way.
“Thanks to the governor’s leadership, New Jersey will continue its ground-breaking efforts in violence intervention programming by disrupting cycles of violence before they start,” Platkin said in a statement. “I applaud the challenging, but essential, work of our hospital and community partners and will continue to champion these programs as attorney general.”
Besides the Paterson-St. Joseph’s effort, programs are associated with the Center for Family Services in Camden, Trinitas Health Foundation in Elizabeth, AtlantiCare in Atlantic City, Capital Health in Trenton, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, University Hospital in Newark, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center/Hackensack Meridian in Monmouth County, which focuses on Asbury Park, Neptune and Long Branch City.