New York State will receive more than $178 million in anti-terror funding from the federal government to protect synagogues and other houses of worship, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced on Thursday.
The funding will come from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
UASI, which funds “high-threat, high-density urban areas,” includes the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). This funding is administered by the DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist institutions in preventing, responding to, or recovering from terror attacks.
The two senators also announced nearly $77 million in State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) for New York State. The funds are to be used for fighting terror outside of urban areas.
Through the NSGP, over $11 million — out of the $60 million allocated earlier this month for the whole country — will be distributed to 116 nonprofits in New York to help secure them against potential terror attacks. Among the nonprofits eligible for the funding are shuls, mosques and churches.
“With both ISIS-inspired attacks and horrific hate crimes targeting places of worship becoming more frequent across the globe, we must do all we can to help protect top terror targets like New York City and help people of all faiths worship in safety and security,” Schumer said. “Federal security funds, like UASI, are the cornerstone of effective preparedness and prevention against terror threats and enable local law enforcement, like the NYPD, to do all they can to keep New Yorkers safe. I have been a strong supporter of counter-terrorism funds for New York City and I will do everything in my power to continue fighting for these funds to make sure that New York and all houses of worship are protected.”
Gillibrand stated, “These anti-terror funds will help our law enforcement protect and save lives, and it will also provide nonprofits and places of worship that are at risk of being targeted with the resources they need to enhance their security and help prevent attacks.”
Earlier this month, after the DHS announced the release of the NSGP funds for the year, Nathan Diament — the Orthodox Union’s executive director — said, “The attacks on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway, California highlight the critical need for this program.”
He added: “The threats we face have created unprecedented pressures on the Jewish community to keep people safe. The recent mass shootings in Texas, Ohio and California further demonstrate that hate attacks are, sadly, on the rise.”
In the wake of the shooting attack on the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, in April, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D- MI) to increase the funding of NSGP to $75 million for fiscal years 2020 to 2024.
DHS will now allow shuls to hire armed guards with the funds if certain conditions are met.