Fighting an opioid epidemic that claimed more than 900 lives in Philadelphia last year is among the priorities of a spending plan being proposed by Mayor Jim Kenney.
Kenney unveiled his $4.4. billion budget and five-year plan Thursday in a speech at City Council chambers.
Kenney said $1.9 million earmarked for fighting opioid addiction would go to a variety of resources, including public education and tracking treatment facility openings, with $1.5 million budgeted to the same programs in future years.
Kenney wants to distribute the anti-overdose drug naloxone to 10,000 residents in the Fairhill and Kensington neighborhoods where heroin use is rampant.
"We are also requesting the funds necessary to target the Philadelphia doctors who prescribe the most opioids and educate them on how to stop putting their patients at risk for addiction," Kenney said.
The plans have already earned positive feedback from community leaders.
“Philadelphia, like other parts of the country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic never before witnessed," said Prevention Point Philadelphia director Jose A Benitez. "Like never before, support for more recovery services are needed to reverse this trend."
Others credited Kenney's attack on opioid addiction as being a smart move to break the cycle of poverty.
"As a Philadelphian, he [Kenney] knows that addiction and the drug trade tear apart the fabric of families and neighborhoods and that law enforcement alone cannot solve this problem. He also understands that everyone living under bridges injecting heroin are someone's sons, daughters, sisters and brothers," said Impact Services CEO Casey O’Donnell. "Jim has personally come to the epicenter of opioid addiction and drug trade in Kensington, spoken with neighbors, and seen for himself what the challenges are."