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SNUG Seeks Extended Funding

November 4, 2013

by Santanya Sharpe

Members and advocates of the organization, SNUG, an anti-violence community group well-known in the Albany area, spoke at a Common Council public Monday about the city’s  proposed budget plan for 2014.

Advocates for the non-profit organization spoke on its behalf in an attempt to stretch the funding for the program in 2014. SNUG program members asked the council to allow a budget of $150,000 for services to help keep the city safe. So far, the state has funded SNUG from July 1, 2013 and will continue to do so until June 30, 2014. However, the members of the organization predict that without continued funding after that period, the violence in Albany will get worse because of the lack of their members patrolling the streets.

Members of the Common Council listen to Harris Oberlander, Trinity Alliance CEO, propose for SNUG budget extension. -Credit: Santanya Sharpe-

Members of the Common Council listen to Harris Oberlander, Trinity Alliance CEO, propose for SNUG budget extension.
-Credit: Santanya Sharpe-

“Our SNUG staff is stretched to the breaking point,” said Harris Oberlander, CEO of Trinity Alliance during the hearing. “We are stretching resources to the South End (of Albany) where one of our own members was injured.”

Trinity Alliance of Albany, a social services organization focused on public health for the community, is responsible for implementing the SNUG program and expanding its services. The organization employs the public health approach in spreading messages about non-violence.

“We are called Cure Violence because violence is just like an infectious disease and it spreads through our communities,” Oberlander said. “We take the highest risk individuals and separate them in a good way by talking to them and engaging them in conversation.”
SNUG – which spells guns backwards, is a violence intervention program based off the Chicago CeaseFire model. Their goal is to decrease gun violence in high-risk communities. Since its employment of “credible messengers” and with the assistance of funding from the city and state, members of SNUG have proven to be instrumental in diffusing violent situations in the Albany area.

“There have been 26 shootings … out of those SNUG has mediated 13 of them,” said Clarence Jackson, an advocate and member of SNUG. “The funding is helping. We visit hospitals and schools, and the funding goes towards withstanding and employing individuals in the city.”

Oberlander and Jackson wait to speak at Common Council Public Hearing

Oberlander and Jackson wait to speak at Common Council Public Hearing

In the event of a violent incident, the SNUG outreach team is notified by the Albany Police Department. The members of the team go see the victim in the hospital and from that point, the members help the victim to cope with their situations and support them in any way possible. Advocates for the program insist that the city continue to fund SNUG for that particular reason emphasizing a need for the members to be available to those directly affected by the violence in Albany’s south end neighborhood.
Common council members are concerned, however, that the proposed funding of $150,000 for the program would be difficult to produce without help from the state considering the amount of other programs seeking funds from the 2014 budget. In addition, there are also questions of whether or not the amount requested would only serve the SNUG program in Albany.

“My concern is if there would be a division of funds with other counties such as Schenectady and Troy,” said Carolyn McLaughlin, Common Council president. “We have to make a strong lobbying effort to ensure if SNUG is put in the budget, it would be Albany that gets it.”

The Common Council expects to make a final funding decision two weeks from now, and Oberlander hopes that the funding for SNUG will be approved to be extended until December 2014.

“Hopefully the city and state can work together in figuring out funding and we can keep going until after 2015,” Oberlander said. “I hope SNUG will be institutionalized”


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