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VOCAL-KY CALLS FOR EVERY DOLLAR OF OPIOID SETTLEMENT FUNDS GO TO HARM REDUCTION
LOUISVILLE, K.Y. — Today, ahead of the ahead of the Opioid Abatement Town Hall, VOCAL-KY and partners held a press conference calling for every dollar of the state’s $478 million opioid settlement fund to go toward harm reduction, housing and care, not criminalization, and that Kentucky prioritize investments in smaller, underfunded non-profits on the frontlines of the fight.
“The money needs to go towards housing, mental health, mobile outreach, diversion programs for people who use substances, instead of sending us to jail,” said Dori Lindblad, a VOCAL-KY Leader. “We need harm reduction services instead of abstinence-based only services, and incentivising programs will encourage people to get involved in their own lives.”
“The abatement settlement money should be used to address the needs of the community, we have to approach each person and situation individually. Meeting people where they are is the first step to doing this,” said Shreeta Walden, Executive Director of KY Harm Reduction Coalition.
“Our city is in a full-blown humanitarian crisis,” said Donny Green, Feed Louisville. “We treat humanitarian crises with resources, harm reduction and community support, not with policing, structural violence and systemic oppression of the victims of that crisis.”
“The dissemination of these funds should not use the traditional top down approach,” said Jeremy Byard, Director of Louisville Recovery Community Connection. “People who use drugs, people with lived experience, those most impacted by the opioid epidemic, should not only have a place at the table, but a paramount voice in how and where this funding should be spent. We can’t afford to have the typical larger organizations continue to receive all of the money while continuing to push interventions that have minimal effectiveness. We must think outside of the box and make a way for grassroots organizations to actually have the funding. They need to continue the amazing work that they do in our community. We must take innovative approaches, and begin to take back our communities.”
“The 31.8 million dollars received by Jefferson County should be spent on increasing the availability of treatment, the accessibility of treatment, and providing a stable environment for individuals seeking out recovery. Availability through mobile treatment programs and brick and mortar locations in underserved areas. Accessibility through transportation to those engage in SUD tx services. Stability through offering “housing first” to individuals who are experiencing homeless and have a substance use disorder,” said Matt LaRocco, Harm Reduction Program Manager, Norton Hospital.
The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission was created to distribute the Commonwealth’s portion of the $478 million settlement. The Commission has held town halls across the state of Kentucky to determine how settlement funds should be dispersed, and today, VOCAL-KY held a press conference to share demands of where the money should be spent.
In line with VOCAL-KY’s Roadmap for Louisville Metro Government, advocates will call for funding for proven, life-saving harm reduction tools for all Louisvillians at risk of overdose, like low barrier Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), naloxone, and harm reduction services for the entire state of Kentucky.