The city of Boston is adding an additional 1,000 jobs to its youth summer jobs program this year and launching several other initiatives aimed at preventing violence during the summer months, when shootings and other crimes often spike, officials said Wednesday.
Mayor Michelle Wu announced the initiatives during a briefing outside the BCYF Tobin Center in Mission Hill, and in a statement released by her office. The moves come as the city in recent months has seen a string of violent attacks involving young people in the Downtown Crossing area and elsewhere.
Wu told reporters it was “very difficult” to hold the briefing, less than 24 hours after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, and less than two weeks after an earlier mass shooting that killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket.
“While these didn’t take place in Boston, too many in our communities live with the fear and threat of violence in neighborhoods,” Wu said. “And as a mom to two boys, as a neighbor, someone who cherishes the friends, family, and community that we have here in Boston, we will move with urgency to make sure that our communities are safe.”
Among the initiatives announced Wednesday was the reinstating of Operation Homefront, a collaboration with Boston police in which teams of officers, clergy, Boston Public Schools staffers, and service providers visit the homes of at-risk youth to inform parents or guardians about their child’s behavior and provide resources offering help.
“In terms of the home front program that was mentioned, again, having participated in that also when I was a patrolman, I can’t say enough about that,” Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long said. “Again, identifying students ... that are going down the wrong road, it enables us to get to them, get social services to them and their families and [keep] them away from a path that none of us want them to get on.”
Long said that in the past two weeks, Boston police have seized more than 25 firearms during multiple arrests.
“Specifically in terms of Boston Police Department deployment this summer, we’re going to continue to rely on our intelligence-driven data to focus on those individuals that are driving violence in those areas where there’s an uptick in violence,” Long said.
Also Wednesday, Wu’s office said the city has expanded the 2022 Boston SuccessLink Summer Youth Jobs program to include 6,000 job opportunities this year, compared to 5,000 offered in 2021. City teens aged 14 to 18 are currently eligible to apply for positions.
“The past two years have been incredibly challenging for our children, and they need all the support they can get, not just from Boston Public Schools but from the entire City of Boston,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius in the statement.
“When City partners, community advocates and local businesses come together to lift them up and expand their options, anything is possible,” Cassellius said. “These youth jobs and programs not only offer students valuable work experience and adult mentoring that enhances their academic endeavors, they also help keep them safe, engaged and out of harm’s way during the summer.”
Additional programs announced Wednesday included a Community Ambassadors initiative to support residents most vulnerable to gang and gun violence; a revamped Adopt-A-Block program in which faith leaders partner with the city to host summer community events, food distribution drives, homelessness prevention services and neighborhood cleanups; and a Green Jobs Initiative providing job training in the environmental sector for “unemployed or underemployed young people and returning citizens,” the statement said.
Dr. Rufus Faulk, the mayor’s senior advisor for public safety who’s heading up Community Ambassadors, praised that program in the statement.
“The Community Ambassadors Program will lean on the social capital, knowledge, and experience of our local community leaders to better connect our neighborhoods and families who have been disproportionately impacted by community violence with City services and resources,” Faulk said.
Under the program, the statement said, two-person teams of people with deep community ties and a commitment to violence prevention will be assigned during the summer months and first quarter of the school year to historically underserved areas throughout Boston to ensure vulnerable residents are connected to services.
“This program will drive more place based initiatives and intentional engagement with underserved individuals, families and communities,” Faulk said. “These Community Ambassadors will have the lived experience to serve as tangible examples of success to our neighborhoods and community leaders in our pursuit of a more equitable Boston for all.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.