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Virginia American Rescue Plan Mayors Letter

The Honorable Ralph Northam
Governor of Virginia
State Capitol Third Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

The Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn
Pocahontas Building
Room No: E605
Senate of Virginia
P. O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218

The Honorable Richard L. Saslaw
Pocahontas Building
Room No: E602
Senate of Virginia
P. O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Governor Northam, Speaker Filler-Corn, and Majority Leader Saslaw:

We, the undersigned local officials, urge you to dedicate $37 million of Virginia’s American Rescue Plan funding to combat gun violence and support community violence intervention programs in our state.

American Rescue Plan Funds can and should be used to support community violence intervention programs in Virginia. Virginia will receive $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds that must be spent by the end of 2024. The US Treasury Department has released guidance that explicitly authorizes these funds to support community violence intervention programs,131 CFR Part 35, available at and the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice released a report in January 2021 with a recommendation that “urgent action is necessary to address these rapidly rising rates [of violence]. Subduing the pandemic, increasing confidence in the police and the justice system, and implementing proven anti-violence strategies will be necessary to achieve a durable peace in the nation’s cities.”2National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, “Impact Report: COVID-19 and Crime,” January 31, 2021,

As Virginian mayors and county officials, we know the tragic effects of gun violence firsthand. This past year our cities have confronted dual public health crises as gun violence surges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year was an especially violent year for Virginia’s cities. Compared to 2019, in 2020 Norfolk suffered a 43% increase in murders, Petersburg experienced a 35% increase, and Richmond saw a 16% increase.3Ned Oliver, “Homicides in Virginia Hit Highest Levels in Two Decades,” Virginia Mercury, June 7, 2021, Across the state, 80% of murders in 2020 involved a gun.4Virginia Department of State Police, “Crime in Virginia 2020,” 2021, And while murders decreased in Virginia Beach, the city saw nonfatal shootings nearly triple.5Jane Harper, “Nonfatal Shootings in Virginia Beach Nearly Triples in 2020; Most Other Crime Dropped,” Virginian-Pilot, February 25, 2021, Virginia’s health systems, especially the trauma centers, have been at the frontline of this public health crisis and have seen unprecedented admissions. For example, the Virginia Commonwealth University Trauma Center treated 391 patients from gun-related violence in 2020, a 64% increase from the same gun-related violence patients treated in 2018.

The increased homicides and gun violence wounds across the state carry high health care, law enforcement, and criminal justice costs to Virginia taxpayers. Gun violence costs Virginia $7.1 billion each year, of which $292.5 million is paid by taxpayers.6Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “EveryStat: Virginia,” accessed June 17, 2021, These high dollar amounts do not even begin to capture the toll of the lives stolen, the trauma young people carry with them after witnessing a shooting, the fear of becoming a victim of violence, or the long-term impacts on communities grappling with gun violence.7Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “Invisible Wounds: Gun Violence and Community Trauma among Black Americans,” May 27, 2021, These tragic incidents disproportionately affect our Black residents, who are eight times more likely to die by gun homicide than their white neighbors.8Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “EveryStat: Virginia,” accessed June 17, 2021, Everytown research suggests that gun homicides and assaults in Virginia cost an average of $335 per resident each year.9Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence: How to Save $280 Billion During a COVID Recession,” February 17, 2021,; Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “EveryStat: Virginia,” accessed June 17, 2021, Gun homicides and assaults include legal intervention.

While Virginia has made investments in gun violence prevention over the years,10“Seven Virginia Hospital Teams Selected to Participate in Grant-funded Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program Initiative,” Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, January 23, 2020,; Champe Barton, “Virginia is the Latest State to Fund Local Gun Violence Prevention,” The Trace, March 12, 2020, communities impacted by gun violence and the programs that serve these communities need increased investment. With increased funding for violence intervention programs, we—and our community partners—will invest more heavily in evidence-informed programs that intentionally work with people at the highest risk of involvement in gun violence. Cities are relying on these programs to respond to this past year’s uptick in violence. Increased funding will allow programs to hire additional community intervention workers and expand violence reductions strategies, such as safe passage and street/community outreach.

Guns wound, traumatize and take far too many of our residents—much more needs to be done. As elected leaders, we are committed to evidence-based violence reduction strategies and urge you to support these efforts by dedicating $37 million of Virginia’s American Rescue Plan funds to support violence intervention programs, serve survivors of gun violence, and uplift communities.


Justin Wilson
Mayor of Alexandria, VA

David L. Meyer
Mayor of Fairfax, VA

MaryJane Tousignant-Dolan
Mayor of Lynchburg, VA

Levar M. Stoney
Mayor of Richmond, VA

Matthew de Ferranti
Chair of County Board,
Arlington County, VA

Dalia A. Palchik
Providence District Supervisor,
Fairfax County, VA

Sherman P. Lea, Sr.
Mayor of Roanoke, VA

Nikuyah Walker
Mayor of Charlottesville, VA

Donnie R. Tuck
Mayor of Hampton, VA

McKinley Lenard Price
Mayor of Newport News, VA

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