NEW HAVEN, CT – New Haven officials have proposed a multi-pronged, health-focused approach to improving the safety of their community – a Department of Community Resilience.

The new government department will focus on violence prevention, mental health, homelessness, crisis response and re-entry services, Major Justin Elicker said at a press conference on Monday. It would be overseen by the Community Services Administrator, Mehul Dalal.

“We deliberately placed this department under local government because we firmly believe that this is a health epidemic linked to violence and the escalation of violence, and we need to put social services first as we solve them . ”Said Elicker.

For the past year and a half, the city has grappled with the coronavirus pandemic, the role of police in communities, and violence prevention. The proposed division is the result of these discussions, the New Haven Independent reported.

One of the key takeaways from the city’s research, Elicker said, was the idea that problems like substance abuse, homelessness, and violence coexist.

Around 80 percent of people returning home from prison have a history of substance abuse, Dalal said at the press conference, and many are homeless.

“We cannot stay out of these problems,” said Dalal.

The division must be approved by the Alders Board before it can be created, the New Haven Independent said. Most of the funds would be transferred from existing departments, with an additional $ 2 million coming from the US federal bailout over four years.

Read more from The New Haven Independent.

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