Cincinnati City Council has authorized spending $275,000 for three programs focused on reducing violence in the city.
The funding comes from $1 million the council included in this year's budget for the "Community Safety Response Program."
The police department's "Victims Assistance Liaison/Cincinnati Citizens Respect Our Witnesses Unit" will be receiving $235,000. That money will be used to fund part-time staff and provide stipends for college interns who assist with the program.
That unit provides victim services to all victims of crime in the city who are cooperating in the investigation of violent criminals.
"We do relocation; assisting folks with counseling; getting them ready for court," said Karen Rumsey, who leads the unit. "And then our services extend beyond the actual court appearance. We'll make sure people are safe even after they testify in these violent crimes."
A community program "UCanSpeakForMe" will be receiving $20,000.
It prints reward cards and flyers that include photos of individuals who have been murdered. Those are distributed to police districts, communities where these unsolved murders have occurred, and playing cards that are shared in the Hamilton County Justice Center.
"That inmates are now quarantined and solving cases at the same time," said Hope Dudley, who's the CEO of UCanSpeakForMe. "There are four states that only have playing cards in the facilities, and Cincinnati is part of that one out of the four states."
Another $20,000 is being given to Ennis Tait Ministries for violence reduction through Project Lifeline.
Financial Help For Those Affected By The Pandemic
Meanwhile, City Council formally approved using federal CARES Act funding to provide grants to local bars and restaurants who have been suffering financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The "Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long" program will allow restaurants to receive up to $10,000 for whatever expenses a bar or restaurant deems necessary to stay open. The city recommends for the businesses to use the funds to ensure COVID safety, such as buying PPE.
Businesses that use the grant money will have to stay open at least five days and 25 hours a week. The bars and restaurants will also have to offer a food or beverage discount to customers.
Council also approved a resolution Wednesday authorizing city administrators to create a program providing financial relief to qualified low-income residential customers who are having problems paying their water and stormwater bills. It would apply to charges between March 1 and Sept. 30.
Election Day Free Rides
And finally, council approved using $12,500 of city money to help Cincinnati Metro provide free bus rides on Election Day. A non-profit organization in Northern Kentucky is providing additional dollars to cover the $24,000 that Metro would ordinarily collect in fare revenues that day.
(WVXU's Bill Rinehart contributed to this story.)