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City Hall touts ‘launch’ of already existing program as NYC crime spikes

Under fire for a flat-footed response to a violent Fourth of July weekend, City Hall touted the “launch” Tuesday of an already established youth employment program for neighborhoods and public housing complexes struggling with gun violence.

“New York City’s Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) today announced the virtual launch of the Anti-Gun Violence Employment Program (AGVEP), offering employment and enrichment opportunities to approximately 700 young people,” read the press release put out by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Four paragraphs later, the release concedes the program was established in 2016 and received a combined $1.5 million from City Hall in the 2020 and 2021 budgets.

City Hall’s release came just hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio was lambasted on the front pages of the city’s two major tabloids after at least 49 people were hit in a string of shootings — mostly in Harlem and Upper Manhattan — over the weekend, killing 11.

The bloodshed followed a June that clocked more than 200 shootings, the most during the month since the Giuliani administration.

MOCJ’s employment program provides coursework and instruction in leadership, career readiness, financial literacy, web development, urban planning and music and film production to teens and young adults — between the ages of 14-24 — who live police precincts with high rates of gun violence and the 15 Housing Authority developments included in de Blasio’s crime action plan.

Participants get a stipend of $850-1,200.

Officials defended the release, saying it was meant to celebrate the program’s transition to virtual course work and socially-distanced instruction as the threat of future coronavirus outbreaks continues to loom with a vaccine months if not years away.

“This is a newly redeveloped virtual employment opportunity for youth in communities that have historically been impacted by gun violence,” said MOCJ spokesman Chester Soria. “Those same communities have experienced a pandemic that has disproportionately affected working class communities of color, both in terms of health and employment.”

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