This article originally appeared in the National Alliance to End Homelessness Blog.
Recently, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Years of rising prescription opioid use and misuse, followed by a surge in the use of illicit opioids, have led to a spike in both overdoses and deaths in the United States.
Opioid use disorders are particularly hard on homeless populations, where prevalence of mental health conditions and substance misuse is high, and health care access is often limited. For that reason, the Alliance is providing an overview of the resources currently available.
THE STATE TARGETED RESPONSE TO THE OPIOID CRISIS GRANT
In December, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which designated $1 billion in new funding to combat the opioid crisis. By April 2017, SAMHSA awarded the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant to all fifty states and U.S. territories. The program provides single state agencies with $485,000,000 annually over the next two years to:
- Increase access to treatment
- Reduce opioid overdose related deaths through prevention
- Support treatment and recovery activities for opioid use disorders (including prescription and illicit drugs)
- Supplement current activities taken by state agencies or territories
As part of the grant, states must develop a needs assessment to determine where opioid abuse is most prevalent. They must also design a strategic plan to address gaps. Although states cannot use funding for housing directly, they may use it to support activities that assist people to secure housing. Now is the time to ensure people experiencing homelessness are part of the strategic planning. Let your state agencies know the importance of securing access to treatment and housing for vulnerable populations.
Soon after the first announcement under the Cures Act, HHS announced additional funding through the following grants:
- Medication-Assisted Treatment and Prescription Drugs Opioid Addiction
- Support for First Responders
- Improving Access to Overdose Treatment
- State Pilot Grant Program for Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women
- Building Communities of Recovery
You can find more information about each of these grants here.
By September 2017, HHS announced even more funding for opioid use disorder. The department awarded another $144 million to the five grants listed above, and included funding under the Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women.
These additional grants also offer an opportunity for housing service providers to work with state agencies, non-profits and others, to address the impact of the epidemic on homeless populations. A full list of grantees is here.
Within the past year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has shown a robust commitment to addressing the epidemic. With the President’s recent declaration, the Alliance anticipates more resources will soon be available.
We will continue to monitor for these resources. We encourage all providers to contact their state agencies to encourage access to treatment and housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.