Representatives Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) and Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) today introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize $250 million in federal funding over five years to help communities respond to the needs of low-income people and families in crisis because of the opioid epidemic.
The Community Action Opioid Response Act, H.R. 5124, establishes a competitive grant program to expand and support effective community efforts to identify and respond to the causes and consequences of opioid misuse and addiction experienced by low-income individuals, families, and communities. Uniquely positioned to address these needs, Community Action Agencies would compete for three-year grants ranging from $50,000 to $1 million per year.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities and torn apart families across our country. Working on the ground, our Community Action Agencies are ready to respond and this bipartisan bill provides them with the resources they need to do so,” Representative McCollum said. “I appreciate working across the aisle with Rep. Smucker on this important legislation to address the opioid epidemic.”
“Now more than ever we must prioritize federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic that has swept across Pennsylvania and the nation,” Representative Smucker said. “Everyone in the community has a role to play in this fight, ranging from law enforcement, pharmacies, physicians, insurers, and community groups. Community action agencies have an existing infrastructure we can harness to reach families and individuals at risk or struggling with opioid addiction. These funds are critical to saving lives, and I am glad to work with Rep. McCollum to increase the federal government’s response in the wake of this public health crisis.”
Grants under the Community Action Opioid Response Act could support a wide range of activities designed to prevent and treat addiction, stabilize the lives of addicted individuals and their families, and support the children of addicted individuals. Grant applicants would undergo rigorous screening by a 15-member review panel under the Department of Health and Human Services.
There are more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies across the country, each governed by a board that represents all sectors of the local community, including its low-income residents. Funded through the Community Services Block Grant, they have well-established and wide-ranging networks of private and public partners, including health care providers, social service organizations, the judicial system, local governments, and thousands of local volunteers.