Published: 11/19/2023 12:16:06 PM
Modified: 11/19/2023 12:15:13 PM
GREENFIELD — The city has received 134 responses to its opioid settlement survey at the midway point in its collection process, with the need for additional housing and recovery options rising to the top of respondents’ priorities.
Of the 134 responses, 105 were completed online and 29 were filled out by hand, according to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner. About 46% of respondents have a loved one in recovery from substance use disorder, while 44% work with individuals and families who have been impacted by opioid addiction. About 29% of respondents, meanwhile, have lost a loved one to opioid addiction, and 23% have a family member who struggles with opioid use disorder.
The survey, which has been live since September and will continue through Dec. 22, comes as the city considers how to spend the roughly $1.7 million it will receive from the nationwide opioid settlement over a span of about 15 years. Greenfield will receive the $1.7 million in multiple payments each year. By the end of fiscal year 2024, the city will have received nearly $250,000 so far.
The nationwide opioid settlement, announced in July 2021, set Massachusetts up to receive more than $500 million of the $26 billion settlement, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The agreement, according to then-Attorney General Maura Healey, resolved investigations and litigation over pharmaceutical companies’ roles in fueling the opioid epidemic.
With the money from the settlement, the city aims to address disparities in existing addiction services, improve the city’s response to the opioid epidemic and aid people who are disadvantaged by the stigma associated with opioid use disorder.
Wedegartner said 75% of responses so far indicated settlement funds should be used to support people in treatment and recovery. Other responses — people were asked to select three options — included addressing the needs of those who have been through the criminal justice system; supporting prenatal or parenting women and their families, including babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome; creating a connection to care systems so people know where to go for help; and supporting opioid use disorder treatment.
When respondents were asked to elaborate in a short response portion of the survey, Wedegartner said additional housing and recovery programs appeared to resonate most with them.
“We asked people, ‘What are you observing, what are you thinking?’” she shared with City Council last week. “And there were a couple of common themes. The one that seems to resonate mostly is additional housing and recovery programs. I found that’s something I’d lump into the category of supporting people in treatment and recovery. It’s very difficult to continue with your recovery if you’re unhoused.”
The survey can be found online at tinyurl.com/OpioidSettlementSurvey and hard copies can be picked up and returned to City Hall, the Greenfield Public Library, the John Zon Community Center, Franklin County Community Justice Support Center, Greenfield Community College, community meal sites and health organizations.
Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.