CHICAGO — U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra stopped in Englewood Friday for a community roundtable discussion on mental health and gun violence.
Becerra joined a community roundtable at Kennedy-King College Friday alongside U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson (D-IL-01) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
“Gun violence is not simply a statistic here,” U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson said. “Gun violence and the trauma that ensues affects all of the families here.”
Activists and politicians joined the community for Friday’s discussion at Kennedy-King College in Englewood to address some of the city’s most pressing challenges.
“The Englewood area has the lowest life expectancy in the city at 60 years 30 years lower than our neighbors in the gold coast in Streeterville, especially our young Black males,” Kennedy-King College Interim President Katonja Webb Walker said.
Secretary Becerra also said the Biden Administration’s commitment of expanding resources for mental health from the 988 lifeline to 24/7 crisis centers.
“Gun violence is a health crisis,” Secretary Becerra said. “It’s not just the criminal justice system its our healthcare system.”
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin highlighted more federal funding recently approved for trauma support in schools in an effect to help children cope with the ripple effects of gun violence.
“We (got to) say these kids you can get through this and nothing wrong with asking for help,” Sen. Durbin said.
Community activists and doctors joined Friday’s conversation that also touched on the flow of illegal guns, the need for healthy food options, and more comprehensive solutions to heal hard hit communities.
Watch the full community roundtable here.