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HUD: Housing has a role to play in combating the opioid epidemic

The opioid epidemic killed an estimated 70,601 people in 2021

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) believes housing has a role to play in combating the opioid overdose epidemic.

On Friday, HUD issued a joint letter co-written with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), urging public health departments and health care systems to “partner with housing providers, community development organizations, and other housing agencies to help expand access to naloxone and other life-saving overdose reversal medications in the communities they serve.”

Housing can help fight the epidemic that killed an estimated 70,601 people in 2021, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HUD said.

“Housing providers play an important role in the whole-of-society effort to save lives by ensuring that all public spaces have lifesaving overdose reversal medications on hand and people are prepared to use [them],” HUD said in an announcement.

“Overdose reversal medications that can reverse an opioid-related overdose, including fentanyl-related overdose, can be found in many schools, libraries, and other community institutions; and should be readily available in and around public housing settings, multifamily housing programs, housing counseling offices, and programs for people experiencing homelessness.”

HUD leaders further emphasized the importance of housing organizations and communities in combating the epidemic.

“Many overdoses happen in the home, and providing access to an effective and easy-to-use medication that can reverse an overdose is just common sense,” said Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Julia Gordon. “We urge our assisted housing property owners and managers to make this lifesaving medication readily available to their residents and guests.”

There have also been new developments in lifesaving medications designed to work against a drug overdose, particularly since fentanyl has emerged as a leading substance involved in an increasing number of overdose deaths, according to Marion McFadden, HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.

“With recent advancements in lifesaving medications, I encourage our local partners offering housing and services to people at risk of drug overdose to use every resource available to prevent death and complications,” McFadden said. “Through a coordinated response from local communities, recipients of federal funding, and healthcare partners, we can beat the overdose epidemic.”

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