As Washington continues to battle an epidemic of opioid addiction, federal officials awarded the state roughly $887,000 in new federal funds to focus on homeless Washingtonians affected by opioid use disorder.

This latest National Health Emergency (NHE) Disaster Recovery Dislocated Worker Grant funding supports efforts to serve up to 80 at-risk homeless individuals in the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Area (PacMtn), which covers Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.

“Washington’s opioid crisis has played a significant role in increasing the number of our homeless families in our state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This latest infusion of federal funds is a recognition of the work already underway throughout our state, and a vote of confidence for our work moving forward. This work is possible because of the strong partnership among the Employment Security Department, PacMtn and local leaders across the region.”

The funds supplement a nearly $5 million NHE Opioid Dislocated Worker Demonstration grant announced in July 2018 to support work in the same five-county region as well as Snohomish county—and allow regional partners to zero in on a particularly acute reason for homelessness across the region.

“This initiative goes well beyond the grant we received earlier this year as it allows community partners to focus on a group of individuals and families hit disproportionately hard by the opioid epidemic — the homeless population in Thurston County and beyond,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine.

“These dollars give us ability to serve those hardest hit by the devastation of opioid use disorder,” said PacMtn Chief Executive Officer Cheryl Fambles. “These are our friends, neighbors and families…many on the verge of homelessness.  They need to get back to work. When they can work families and our local economy get stronger.”

The Employment Security Department, the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council (PacMtn), WorkSource Thurston and other partners will use the funds to:

  • Hire four peer recovery counselors who will serve homeless at-risk individuals;
  • Identify and refer up to 80 homeless at-risk individuals to designated peer counselors in the region for assistance;
  • Provide individualized career, training and supportive services—including connection to rapid re-housing and other resources; and
  • Train staff on trauma-informed care, harm reduction and emergency medical interventions.

Effective treatment is available for those affected by opioid use disorder. Call the 24-hour Washington Recovery Help Line at 866-789-1511 or visit WARecoveryHelpline.org.