A new state grant program is aiming to help people battling opioid use disorder to secure and maintain housing.
A total of $15 million has been set aside for communities in 30 urban and rural counties, including some in Central Pennsylvania to apply for grants to develop support and housing-related services for individuals with opioid use disorder.
Research collected from 45 state-sponsored opioid use disorder centers of excellence in Pennsylvania identified housing problems as a barrier for those seeking treatment for opioid use disorders. Housing instability, combined with unmet basic needs, makes the road to recovery and independence extremely challenging, said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith.
“To truly combat this crisis, we must build capacity to support individuals by providing necessary, supportive wrap-around services like stable housing and case management,” she said in a statement.
The grant program was developed by the state departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Human Services in partnership with the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency.
The funding is intended to support at least eight pilot projects. They must be geared toward assisting individuals in evidence-based treatment interventions, providing support that will maintain housing stability and providing pre-tenancy and tenancy education services.
“When a person experiences homelessness in addition to a substance use disorder, the lack of a secure home is often a barrier to staying engaged with treatment and recovery, if they are able to access treatment at all,” Department of Health Secretary Teresa Miller said in a statement. “Supporting programs that assist with housing access and stability will help more people stay engaged in treatment and reach recovery.”
The housing initiative is the first of several in the works after the state secured a $55.9 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to boost Pennsylvania’s response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
Additional initiatives funded by the grant are focused on expanding services to pregnant women and veterans affected by opioid-use disorder, developing the treatment and recovery workforce, and strengthening criminal justice and law enforcement initiatives.
For the housing grants, counties were selected on a formula based on rate of people diagnosed with opioid use disorder and rate of overdose-related deaths.
Among the eligible counties are:
A sample application is available on the commonwealth’s eMarketplace.