PHILADELPHIA – Today, Mayor Kenney announced a $20 million investment to tackle the opioid crisis in the City during his FY19 budget address. The increased investment is a part of the City’s Five-Year plan.
As the most significant public health crisis the City has ever faced, the City expects to see approximately 1,200 drug overdose deaths for 2017, up from 907 in 2016. Overdose deaths are now four times the number of homicides in the City.
The epidemic also has a growing impact on homelessness and the city’s neighborhoods, and the Five-Year Plan seeks to tackle these challenges by preventing the growth of the crisis, providing more treatment options, reducing harm, as well as keeping neighborhoods safe, clean, and accessible.
The investment will be directed toward the following activities:
- Housing options for people who are addicted and homeless: respite (no-barrier opportunities for individuals to “come inside,” including both daytime engagement and overnight resources similar to shelter), and “Housing First” (apartments with wrap-around treatment and case management services);
- $1M in annual funds to support the “Hub of Hope” in Center City, which provides daytime respite and needed services to individuals on the street;
- Funds for the distribution of naloxone by City agencies and community partners to directly save lives from overdoses;
- $225,000 budgeted annually for a team of physicians to coach and provide consultation to physicians and other medical professionals to offer Medication-Assisted Treatment;
- A multi-disciplinary team within the Fire Department to provide individuals who are treated for opioid overdoses with connections to treatment resources and social services designed to help the individual connect with harm reduction;
- $750,000 annually for the Police Assisted Diversion program in the Police Department’s East Division, which allows officers to redirect low-level offenders who are engaged in drug and prostitution activity to community-based services instead of prosecution and jail.
In May 2017, The Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia issued a report considering the causes of the public health crisis caused by prescription and illicit opioids, and delivered 18 recommendations focused around prevention and education, treatment, overdose prevention, and our criminal justice response.
Over the last year, the Task Force has made progress with insurance companies and health institutions in their efforts to curb over-prescribing, and lives have been saved through equipping City employees and community members with the overdose antidote, naloxone.
Since 2016, the City, through the Managing Director’s Office, has managed an interdepartmental effort to address the impacts of the opioid crisis to the community most impacted – specifically within the Kensington-Fairhill neighborhoods. The Managing Director’s Office will continue to focus on addressing the negative impact caused by the epidemic in affected neighborhoods, specifically, neighborhood safety and cleanliness, by improving needle clean-up and supporting block-by-block safe streets organizing.