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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Travis County commissioners approved Tuesday the allocation of $860,000 to assist with opioid overdose prevention and mitigation resources.

The $860,000 in funding comes from the Texas Opioid Abatement Fund Council. Travis County received and accepted roughly $1.4 million from the council during Tuesday’s meeting, with projected distributions of an estimated $7.5 million in opioid crisis funding to be made available over the next 18 years.

However, that funding figure is fluid and could change as the state of Texas receives funding from opioid crisis court rulings.

Under action taken Tuesday, the $860,000 in funds will be divvied up in the following ways:

  • $175,000 for the purchase of NARCAN
  • $350,000 for two-year contract with Communities for Recovery to cover the costs of two peer recovery specialists (one at Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center and one at The Other Ones Foundation-Esperanza Community)
  • $300,000 for two, two-year contracts for methadone services provided by Addiction and Psychotherapy Services and Community Medical Services
  • $35,000 for two-year investment in needles and syringe collection services at six locations in Travis County

Commissioners also approved reimbursing up to $575,000 in previous expenses the county has had related to the opioid crisis, as well as allocated an equal amount of $575,000 to the county’s allocated reserves to be spent toward additional opioid abatement services.

A remaining $41,000 from that initial $1.4 million pool of money will also be moved to the county’s allocated reserves to support any future opioid crisis abatement funds requirements.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar told KXAN in 2022 this funding comes from “either drug companies or distribution companies that have settled with the state of Texas as well as local governments and counties that have sued them because of the opioid abuse that we not only have in Texas, but across the entire nation.”

During Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday, organizers and staff with several recovery groups servicing the region advocated for alternative funding uses.

Cate Graziani, executive director of THRA, commended the efforts the county has taken but added on-the-ground coordination is still lacking in opioid crisis response. They noted a community collaboration letter shared with commissioners Tuesday, adding they’d like to help coordinate on the ground with other service providers who can speak more holistically to the needs of people struggling with opioid addiction.

Graziani was joined by representatives from the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance and The Other Ones Foundation, who added while treatment resources are essential, preventing overdose deaths remains of utmost importance amid this crisis.

“I think the picture in Travis County is very clear. Last year we lost 417 people to overdoses,” said Eli Cortez, a THRA organizer. “I’m not saying that we don’t need NARCAN. I’m not saying that we don’t need peer recovery supports. But what we need is for this money to really be throwing everything we can, throwing anything further.”

As part of the county’s next steps, they plan to work with community partners and organizations on additional funding resources for those allocated reserves. Commissioners are expected to discuss some of those future opportunities within the next 90 days.