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Mayor Wu and the Boston Public Health Commission announce the Family Overdose Support Fund to assist families who lost loved ones to overdose

The fund is supported by City distributions from national settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors, informed by a community engagement process 

 

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced the creation of the “Family Overdose Support Fund,” a new fund that will provide financial support to Boston families who have lost a loved one to opioid overdose. The fund is the first use of the City’s payments from multistate settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors, and was  established after an extensive community engagement process that invited residents to inform how the money should be spent.  

“The grief and trauma of losing a loved one to overdose has a lasting impact on our communities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This fund will help support our families and our communities by easing the financial burdens that undermine a healthy grieving process. I want to thank everyone who participated in our public engagement process and our many state and city colleagues who worked for years to secure these funds and bring a measure of justice to families in Boston and across the country.” 

“The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of many loved ones throughout Boston’s communities. Children have lost parents. Parents have lost sons and daughters. Families have suffered an enormous emotional toll and are also shouldering a significant financial burden,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “The Family Overdose Support Fund will alleviate some of that burden by providing direct financial assistance to support childcare, funeral expenses, and other services to those who have been impacted by this ongoing tragedy.”    

The Family Overdose Support Fund will launch later this year with $250,000 to distribute to  Boston families who have experienced the loss of a family member due to opioid overdose. Families can use the funds to cover funeral expenses, therapy, legal services, childcare, and other financial burdens.  

This will be one of several investments from Boston’s share of the State’s opioid settlements. Boston will incrementally receive at least $22 million through 2038.

This announcement marks a new chapter in years of litigation, including a suit brought by the City of Boston against drug makers and opioid distributors for fueling the opioid epidemic. From July 2021 through December 2022, then-Attorney General Maura Healey announced four settlements that will provide almost a billion dollars to Massachusetts over 18 years. A portion of those funds gets distributed across the Commonwealth to cities and towns for prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. 

In Boston, BPHC conducted an extensive and equitable community engagement process, asking those impacted by overdose to inform how the funds should be spent. Throughout the summer of 2023, more than 600 people participated through community and provider listening sessions, surveys, and long-form responses. A majority of respondents wanted to prioritize the needs of grieving families by providing direct financial support. Respondents also expressed strong interest in housing support and low threshold housing for people with substance use disorder, community-based equity initiatives to address substance use, overdose prevention and prevention centers, and youth prevention. The full report is now released and can be found here.

BPHC is hiring an opioid settlement project director to implement and oversee the Family Overdose Support Fund and other settlement investments. Additional investments will include low threshold housing and community grants, and ongoing community engagement will continue to inform the funding process over the settlement period.   

For more information on the city’s opioid remediation settlement funds, visit boston.gov/opioid-settlements

ABOUT THE BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION

Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is the country’s oldest health department. We envision a thriving Boston where all residents live healthy and fulfilling lives. To accomplish this, BPHC works in partnership with communities to protect and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, especially those impacted by racism and systemic inequities. Learn more about our work at boston.gov/bphc.

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