Regarding Crain’s editorial (“Finally, something business leaders can do about crime,” Sept. 24): Arne Duncan of Chicago CRED is quick to praise the spirit of collaboration among the violence prevention groups, nonprofit and governmental, but he has two laments: They’re only reaching about 10% of the target group because they can’t afford to hire enough intervention workers, and there’s no single individual—no “czar”—to coordinate an effective collaborative strategy.
My solution is simple: Make Duncan, who has a wealth of administrative and leadership experience in the public and nonprofit worlds, the violence prevention coordinator—the czar, if you will—with a mandate to bring all the stakeholders together to formulate intervention strategies, guesstimate their cost and identify funding sources.
One cost estimate for a comprehensive and effective intervention initiative is $2 billion over five years, about four times the amount that’s currently spent on such programs.
Two billion dollars, as Crain’s columnist Greg Hinz points out, is roughly $100,000 for each of the 20,000 violent, potentially violent or at-risk young people.
One hundred thousand dollars, Hinz notes, is about the cost of one year’s tuition, room and board, and expenses at an elite university.
So visualize Duncan, or whomever, convening meetings that include representatives from city, county, state and federal governments and from business, civic, labor, religious and community organizations.
Why such a large and diverse group when the bulk of the violence is confined to a dozen or so of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods?
Because its impact affects all of us by making the city an unattractive place to live, work, play and raise a family.
It seems to me that Chicago is at an inflection point, a moment where we either step up and go all in to reduce the violence or watch our beloved city become more and more ungovernable and unlivable.
To me, and I hope to most of you, the choice is easy.