NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A new gun violence dashboard is empowering the citizens of Norfolk.

Since 2016, there have been more than 900 shootings across the city. The Urban Renewal Center, an organization that helps those in need, spent almost two months mapping every time a bullet hit someone in the city.

“It became evident there was not a lot of data,” said Alex Fella, who serves as the research director for the URC.

Fella says since 2018, there has been a steady increase in shootings.

“We really wanted to ask why, we wanted to ask where with this dashboard. This violence has been going on for years. It was only after it crossed that threshold on Granby Street downtown that somebody said hey wait a second. We have a problem here,” Fella explained.

With the help of the URC, Fella created two maps. One shows all shootings across the city. The other hones in on violence surrounding downtown Norfolk’s nightlife. He presented the latter during Norfolk’s Sep. 13 city council meeting at a time when late night bars and restaurants are under the microscope. Some have faced closure after their conditional use permits were revoked.

“There is basically zero correlation between gun violence and proximity to a nightlife venue. The correlation between poverty, even youth poverty, if we talk about shootings involving participants under the age of 18 and we look at the locations where those happen. Without fail they are in neighborhoods where youth poverty is 82%,” Fella stated.

Fella explains that since 2016, 3% of shootings occurred with 750 feet of what Norfolk considers “nightlife” and businesses with conditional use permits.

“The data and the research shows very clearly making it harder to get a conditional use permit in Norfolk will probably have virtually no impact on gun violence,” Fella said.

After presenting his research to city leaders, Fella told 10 On Your Side nobody on council or the planning commission reached out.

“It is far less sexy if you are a politician to say we’re going to have a 10-year plan to address poverty in Norfolk in order to address gun violence. That’s far less appealing to voters then it is to say we’re going to have more police, we’re going to have more metal detectors, we’re going to have surveillance cameras, we’re going to close down bars,” Fella stated.

He says the URC’s dashboard is meant to empower those in Norfolk.

“Hey this data’s out there. It’s free. Until we get at the deeper structural issues of poverty and wealth and equality and systemic divestment from poor neighborhoods, from the working class, food deserts, lack of access to transportation, evictions and lack of affordable housing, until these things are addressed, we’re not really addressing gun violence,” Fella explained.

Fella projects the problem will get worse before it gets better.

“It’s not more police, it’s not more surveillance, it’s not harming small businesses downtown. It’s getting at the heart of the matter, which in Norfolk is poverty,” Fella said.

Al Ragas and Chris Johnson co-own Scotty Quixx. The bar and restaurant had its conditional use permit revoked by the city two weeks ago due to a tax discrepancy. This came after city leaders started cracking down on nightlife and businesses with conditional use permits in an effort to stop violence downtown.

After hearing Fella’s presentation to council breaking down gun violence by the numbers, they question why they’re the ones being scrutinized when they’re not contributing to the problem.

“We’ve had our name thrown out there many times when something happens a block or two away and it’s like well we weren’t even open. We have no idea what was going on over there. We do everything we can to make sure people aren’t being over served. We do everything we can to make sure people are in a safe environment. At some point there’s no control what somebody does,” Johnson told 10 On Your Side.

Ragas says he doesn’t have a lot of faith in the city right now.

“What do you do about the middle of the day? There’s a shooting at the mall or at the 7-Eleven? They can’t control those, but yet they operate with no restrictions or rules in place. Why are we different just because we sell alcohol and have music? It doesn’t make any sense,” Johnson stated.

Fella believes people fall into one of two categories.

“Some people care about gun violence and some people care about gun violence in their neighborhood. Depending on which one gets prioritized we’re going to end up with radically different policies meant to address the issue,” Fella concluded.

You can view the URC’s gun violence dashboard here.