Spokane City Council Adopts Mayor Brown's Proposal to Invest Initial Allocation of Opioid Settlement Dollars

Erin Hut, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 12:05 p.m.

In a 5-1 vote, the Spokane City Council adopted Mayor Lisa Brown’s proposal to strategically invest an initial allocation of opioid settlement funds toward two programs aimed at helping those struggling with substance use disorders.  

The ordinance, passed on Monday, directs $500,000 to the expansion of the Spokane Fire Department’s Community Assistance Response (CARES) program. The CARES Team helps reduce unnecessary use of the emergency health care system by providing ongoing case management services. These funds will be used to add a social worker, substance use disorder professional, and case manager to the team, ultimately increasing their caseload capacity from 600 to 1,500 cumulative cases focused on opioid use disorder.  

An additional $500,000 will go toward the creation of a High Utilizer and Complex Care Initiative, including a contract with a community-based provider to coordinate care, provide intensive wrap-around services, and launch case management services for individuals cycling between jail, emergency departments and local shelters.   

“The passage of this funding allocation is a step forward in our commitment to community safety supporting people struggling with opioid use disorder. We are expanding a proven model and increasing our case management capacity which is designed to ultimately decrease taxpayer costs associated with jail, emergency room, and shelter use,” Mayor Brown said.  

“The growth of opioid usage in our community has reached the level of a crisis,” Council President Betsy Wilkerson said. “Council is committed to doing what it takes to combat this crisis, and the allocations of funding for community care is a step in the direction of providing resources that can aid those cycling through the system of provider care.” 

“This funding is going to save lives,” said Paul Dillon, Spokane City Council Member and chair of the Public Safety and Community Health committee. “Support for these critical programs and services helps us reach the people most vulnerable to opioid abuse disorder especially with the increased impact of fentanyl. We know when people get treatment, they get better.”

This is the first allocation of opioid settlement dollars. The City of Spokane anticipates receiving $13.3 million over 17 years.