Boston: $1 million in grant funding available to prevent overdose deaths and expand treatment

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Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced $1 million in grant funding available for community-based organizations that work to prevent overdose deaths and provide substance use treatment in neighborhoods seeing the highest overdose rates, with a focus on serving Black and Latinx communities that are at increased risk. According to BPHC's latest data, those neighborhoods include Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, Roxbury, and the South End. Data also show overdoses have increased by 29% among Black people and 9% among Latinx people in Boston from 2021-2022, making it one of the leading causes of early death for Black and Latinx men.

"Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic here in Boston," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "This funding will help neighborhood based organizations save lives by preventing overdoses and helping residents access treatment. I want to thank the community organizations who are saving lives every day and our state and city partners who are fighting to end this epidemic."

The Community Overdose Response Grants are a one-time fund of $1 million and are the second use of Boston's opioid remediation funding. These funds will support community-based organizations across the city to increase access to naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, and to distribute and train Boston residents to use naloxone. Community-based organizations can also use funds to connect people to substance use treatment and other services. Organizations can request up to $200,000 and spend the funds over three years. The Request for Proposals (RFP) recently opened.

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"Opioid overdose deaths have disproportionately occurred among Black and Latinx individuals throughout Boston," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We know naloxone saves lives, but access to it is limited and disparities exist in utilization and uptake. The Commission is committed to increasing access to naloxone and educating our residents on how to recognize and respond to an overdose. By partnering directly with communities, we can reach more people and be more impactful in this critical work."

This follows the City's previous announcement about the use of opioid remediation funding. Boston created the Family Overdose Support Fund to provide financial support to families who have lost a loved one to opioid overdose. The RFP also recently opened for a vendor to distribute financial aid to people directly starting this summer. The Family Overdose Support Fund will have $250,000 per year for approximately 50 families.

The City's use of payments from multistate settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors was established after an extensive community engagement process led by BPHC that invited residents to inform how the money should be spent. The engagement process identified equitable community-based overdose prevention strategies as a top priority.

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During the community engagement process, respondents also expressed strong interest in housing support and low threshold housing for people with substance use disorder. Low threshold housing sites in Boston have been successful in giving people shelter and connecting people with case managers and treatment. Since the launch in January 2022, the sites have served 630 people, placing 213 people into permanent supportive housing.

Boston has received more than $10 million from the State's opioid settlements and will incrementally receive at least $22 million through 2038. This comes after years of litigation, including a suit brought by the City of Boston against drug makers and opioid distributors for fueling the opioid epidemic. From July 2021 through December 2022, then-Attorney General Maura Healey announced four settlements that will provide almost a billion dollars to Massachusetts over 18 years.

For more information on Boston's opioid remediation settlement funds, visit boston.gov/opioid-settlements.

Filed Under: Government, City

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