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Seattle to use $7M for post-overdose care

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(The Center Square) – Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has unveiled a $7 million capital funding initiative to enhance the city’s response to substance abuse during the ongoing opioid crisis.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and will be used to upgrade local organizations’ facilities that treat substance abuse, deliver opioid medication and provide post-overdose care.

The Downtown Emergency Service Center is set to receive $5.65 million. The remaining $1.35 million is likely to go to the Evergreen Treatment Service, pending approval from HUD.

The newly announced funding is part of an executive order from Harrell last year that included $27 million in future funding to address the opioid crisis in Seattle as part of Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan.

HUD will have to approve the winning projects before the $7 million is distributed.

The Downtown Emergency Service Center will operate a post-overdose stabilization and care facility in the downtown area called the Orca Center. Renovations are expected to begin by the beginning of 2025.

“By providing much-needed treatment such as medications for opioid use disorder, as well as access to harm reduction supplies, education and other services, we aim to prevent the next overdose and cut down on emergency room use,” Downtown Emergency Service Center Executive Director Daniel Malone said in a news release.

From 2022 through March 2024, the Downtown Emergency Service Center has received a combined $39.5 million from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, the agency tasked by Seattle and King County to address the region’s homelessness crisis.

Pending federal approval, the Evergreen Treatment Service will launch a mobile clinic this summer with an additional $1 million from the city.

Harrell approved an executive order last September that enforces a treatment-first approach when it comes to the city’s law against the public use and possession of drugs. This comes as the region is in the midst of a drug epidemic.

According to Public Health-Seattle and King County, there were a record-shattering 1,323 drug overdose deaths throughout King County in 2023, with 82% of deaths involving fentanyl.

As of Thursday, there have been 402 overdose deaths through 2024.

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