Mayor Brown Declares Emergency to Implement Integrated Response to Opioid Crisis

Erin Hut, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 11:34 a.m.

Mayor Lisa Brown declared an emergency Tuesday to implement an integrated response to address the opioid crisis in the City of Spokane.  

The declaration streamlines several directives related to both public health and public safety across the City of Spokane, but primarily within the 2nd and Division St corridor, which is most acutely impacted by the opioid crisis.  

The emergency declaration streamlines the Brown Administration’s ability to take several actions related to combatting the opioid crisis and addressing the needs of the unhoused community.  

Funding and Contracts  

By declaring an emergency, the City of Spokane is able to direct funding and issue contracts more quickly.  

The emergency declaration assists the City in taking the next step in the Department of Commerce’s Right-of-Way Encampment Resolution Program. The Division/Browne corridor from Sprague to I-90 was designated as a priority encampment zone in March. Since then, contractors have been in the corridor evaluating and engaging with those experiencing homelessness. The City is now entering into a contract with Empire Health Foundation to operate a temporary transition center in the Cannon Street facility, where those willing to engage will be connected to proper services and ultimately transitional housing solutions.  

The emergency declaration also allows the City to immediately partner with Consistent Care to execute the new High Utilizer Initiative with funding from recent opioid settlements. Consistent Care will begin identifying people who frequently cycle between the street, emergency rooms, and jail, and will immediately begin delivering case management services to them.  

City Resources and Partnerships 

Mayor Brown’s emergency declaration also allows the City of Spokane to leverage a variety of partnerships with both non-profit service providers, emergency responders, and law enforcement.  

The City is partnering with Spokane Treatment and Recovery Services (STARS) to increase the presence of the CAR50 program within the corridor. CAR50 provides safe, compassionate transport for individuals under the influence of a substance to an appropriate medical or treatment facility. Providers will narrow their city-wide proactive support routes to the corridor, meaning they will be in the area six times every 24 hours, in addition to any other calls for assistance they receive from first responders.  

The Spokane Fire Department’s Medical Director has also issued a standing medical order for SFD to provide proven medical intervention for withdrawal management.

Additionally, the City is working closely with local, state, and federal partners to disrupt the drug market within the corridor. Spokane Police will be adding additional patrols in the area and adjacent streets.  

Calls for Additional Help and Partnerships  

As part of this emergency declaration, the City of Spokane is requesting additional help from other partners.  

The City has requested additional doses of Narcan and fentanyl test strips to supplement the existing supply for first responders, while also initiating a request to solicit additional opioid abatement strategies that meet the approved purposes outlined in the settlement between Washington State and opioid manufacturers that fueled this crisis.  

“It is no surprise that our community is dealing with the horrific impacts of fentanyl and other opioids. It is taking the lives of our loved ones and neighbors, and requires swift action. Today’s emergency declaration allows us to take a variety of efforts to combat this crisis and do so in a coordinated, strategic way,” Mayor Brown said.  

“Responding to the fentanyl and housing crises requires integrated resources and compassionate care. Empire Health Foundation looks forward to supporting the front-line service providers working each day to serve our most vulnerable community members,” said Zeke Smith, President of Empire Health Foundation. “We applaud Mayor Brown’s leadership in supporting authentic coordination of resources to address this public health and safety emergency. The research clearly shows effective coordination and braiding of services ensures more sustainable outcomes.”