Civic Coalition to Save Lives

September 2023 Issue

Bending the Curve: Homicides are Down in Philadelphia

Though gun violence continues to dominate media coverage, Philadelphia has actually achieved a significant reduction in gun violence this year.

  • As of the end of September, homicides are down 18%  in the city from this time last year.
  • Philadelphia is on pace to have less than 400 murders for the first time since the Covid pandemic.

And while gun violence is slightly down throughout the country, few cities have experienced this level of reduction. Some cities have even seen large increases in murders this year, like Washington, DC and Memphis.


The Civic Coalition to Save Lives’ subject matter expert, David Muhammad, who, as part of the Coalition’s partnership with the City has been providing technical assistance to the Police Department points to a combination of factors:

  • Intervention-focused operations and initiatives
  • Intentional investment in successful programs
  • Greater coordination among City services, programs, law enforcement and community-based organizations, thanks in large part to the work of the Coalition and the collaboration with the City’s Office of Violence Prevention

What’s working: 

  • The Philadelphia Police Department redesigned Operation Pinpoint and its weekly shooting reviews to direct resources and focused attention to the most violent areas of the city and the individuals most likely to be involved in gun violence. 
  • Additional resources have helped lower caseloads for the city’s Group Violence Initiative (GVI) program has shown promise in reducing group member-involved shootings.
  • There has been greater investment in community-based organizations closest to people and neighborhoods being most impacted by gun violence.
  • Innovative city programs like P3, use a proven case management approach for those on a path to jail, the ER or death, including trauma-informed behavioral healthcare, credible messengers and mentors, and employment opportunities. Keep reading for information about a pilot program for stable housing.

“Key to the effectiveness of these supports and opportunities is a focus on building trust with highest risk clients, ensuring safety and reducing harm. This foundation of safety and trust can then lead to longer-term engagement and formal services for many.”

David Muhammad, Executive Director
National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform

GVICC Achieves Major Milestone

Last month, the Civic Coalition to Save Lives announced that the Gun Violence Intervention Coordination Center (GVICC) is operational, with Chau Wing Lam serving as director of operations.

Since then, the GVICC has:

  • Been established as an independent 501(c)3 and received approval of charitable status from the IRS
  • Identified office space, courtesy of Comcast, a founding member of the Civic Coalition to Save Lives. A move is planned for mid-October.
  • Hired initial staff to further support the coordinating actvities

GVICC Senior Project Manager Sara Autori will increase collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety (CJPS).

Sarah is providing strategic coordination of the City’s intervention programs and project management support for the Community Crisis Intervention Program (CCIP) and Pushing Progress Philly (P3).

Read more about Sara here. 

National Urban Fellow Anthony Shaw will support a portfolio of GVICC partners by providing technical support and strategic assistance to ensure they are able to deliver effective programming without hindrances.

Anthony will also focus his time on ensuring the successful implementation of a new pilot housing program for those at the highest risk of being impacted by gun violence.

Read more about Anthony here.

Innovative Programs: Stable Housing

Case managers working one-on-one with high-risk individuals build their trust by finding solutions to their most urgent problems. Safe emergency housing is often at the top of the list.

It’s also among the more challenging issues to address quickly enough to prevent a shooting incident.


Under current Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) policies anyone with a criminal background is barred from public housing for 10 years. But PHA has discretionary authority by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to modify policies and is working with the Coalition on a solution. 

The Civic Coalition to Save Lives and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) are launching a pilot program to open doors that have long been closed to those with criminal records. 

  • Reliable and consistent case management is the key. The pilot program works to provide a resource to high-risk individuals who are actively and consistently engaged in a focused intervention program and working directly with an intervention case manager.
  • Under this initiative, 15 public housing units and 15 Housing Choice Vouchers will be made available to high-risk individuals and their families 
  • Part of the Coalition’s work is coordinating resources and making them more readily available for case managers to access – this program will allow them to quickly provide safe and stable housing, help build trust, and meet a critical need to prevent gun violence and save lives.

Yeah, but what’s the connection? 

  • Economic stress and desperation often leads to displacement into high-crime areas with cheaper housing options. 
  • Without a permanent address, access to public services are more limited, behavioral health issues are exacerbated, and there is heightened vulnerability to criminal groups and gangs offering a dangerous but family-like network of support – all of which contribute to the highest risk factors.
  • For a very high-risk individual, what may be considered a small problem to many can easily become a matter of life or death and justification for gun violence.

Community Drivers

Survivors of a violent death have to contend with a different set of circumstances than someone who has experienced a “natural” death. EMIR Healing Center (Every Murder Is Real) is a non-profit that serves and supports family members and friends who have been affected by gun violence and homicide.

The organization was co-founded by Victoria Greene and her daughter, Chantay Love, who lost son and brother, Emir, to gun violence in 1997.

Next month, EMIR will mark 20 years of healing with a gala fundraiser. We applaud the Love family and everyone at EMIR empowering those traumatized by gun violence to heal and become agents of positive change. 

Learn more about EMIR and co-founder and director, Chantay Love here