The three-year contract for the Cure Violence program ends in July.
Cure violence focused on the Dutchtown, Walnut Park, Wells-Goodfellow and Hamilton Heights neighborhoods.
Anthony Pickens-Bey started working in the Walnut Park neighborhood three years ago as the Urban League’s site director.
“It’s a bitter situation to know that something that has made a difference in the community is going to be uprooted,” Pickens-Bey said.
Picken’s-Bey spear-headed the cure violence program in Walnut Park and says he could see the changes within the neighborhood.
“When we got started, there was a lot of chaos every day,” Pickens-Bey said. “All day. All night. We found out as a result of us being there for three years, we reduced that type of atmosphere to a more calm atmosphere where people were able to get a lot more rest than they were previously.”
News 4 spoke to someone who has lived in Walnut Park for the last 40 years.
She asked to stay anonymous and said crime has improved in the neighborhood.
However, she said the City needs to put more into North St. Louis so it can thrive.
“You are not going to help violence or anything else that’s steadily going down,” A Walnut Park resident said. “Raggedy houses. It’s like we don’t even exist. You’re causing the violence to keep coming in because it’s like we are forgotten, or they don’t care about us.”
Dr. Teferi says this would help them take what they learned in the last three years and improve issues across the Metro.
“To take many of these resources and expand it throughout the city,” Dr. Teferi says. “You can’t work in two, three areas and expect bigger results.”
Pickens-Bey says even though the program may be ending, he hopes the community atmosphere he tried to create continues.
“Hoping that the people learned from what was being done and maintain that,” Pickens-Bey says. “Whether our presence be there or not. We would like to think that whatever relationships we built, that people will always continue to lean on that relationship and know that we’re always here for them.”
The Urban League is also emphasizing that resources are still available to people in need.
News 4 reached out to St. Louis City for comment and received this statement:
The Office of Violence Prevention engages with national partners and surveys their work with violence intervention in their cities. Through this collaboration, we are always improving. Most recently, we released an RFP in March that outlines a more collaborative violence prevention model with management and technical assistance that aligns with our other public safety systems. To date, two organizations have applied in close proximity to the contract expiration date, and no decision has been made on applicants.
In anticipation of this issue, OVP has a plan in place to ensure work in these neighborhoods will continue through a partnership with the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission. We also intentionally listen to the community. We can assure residents in Dutchtown/Gravois Park, Wells Goodfellow/Hamilton Heights and Walnut Park East and West that interrupters continue the work through summer as we determine a full-time provider.