Representatives from UnifiedErie shared their progress in reducing crime during Wednesday’s Erie City Council’s study session.
“So, we were letting them know about the three prongs of this initiative, they’re prevention, the enforcement and specifically around the re-entry prong,” said Sheila Silman, Advisory Group Member of UnifiedErie.
Silman oversees the re-entry side of the initiative which focuses on reducing the number of people who go back into jail or prison. “We want the folks to know that we’re as much a part of revitalization of our community as economic development is,” said Silman. “If you bring crime rates down, then people are going to want to invest in the community.”
During the Erie City Council study session, council members spoke with members of Erie County United to discuss Community Benefit Agreements. CBA’s suggest that if a developer wants to get a tax break, like LERTA, the community should benefit as well.
“The current LERTA already has a lot standards in it to make sure that locals get hired and locals are paid well in those jobs,” said Kate Koehle, regional organizer at Erie County United. “So, all we’re doing is enhancing those percentages, bumping them up. “
Koehle says Erie County United wants to make sure that local hires get paid fair wages and receive decent benefits. “Try to get a feel for what people need in town and that’s where this ordinance kind of grew out of,” said Koehle. “By hearing what they need, they need jobs and they’re tired of working minimum wage jobs because that does nothing for them.”
Both groups say they will continue their conversations with city council about their missions.