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Government agencies offer rural recovery housing to nonprofits

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The federal government’s response to the opioid crisis in the last two years has mainly been to bolster nonprofits and community leaders already at work on the issue.

A recently announced program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) follows that vein, offering discounted single-family housing to nonprofits for recovery, job training and other services for people in substance misuse treatment.

The USDA partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on this effort in rural communities, where opioids are more likely to be prescribed and abused.

“We know that the opioid crisis has hit rural communities hard, and we need to leverage all possible partnerships to support these communities,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “Housing plays a vital part in the recovery process for those living with opioid-use disorders.”

Recovery housing—sometimes called transitional housing or sober-living housing—are places where people can stay while trying to get sober, away from familiar environmental triggers. Some people stay in these houses after getting out of a rehab or detox program.

This program is a follow-up to a 2018 partnership between USDA Rural Development and the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). That year, SAMHSA supplemented USDA grants to expand opioid-use disorder treatment and prevention training.

All of these administrations are working under President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency.

The USDA launched a Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox last December, which included a directory of federal resources to help rural communities address the opioid crisis, as well as an interactive database.

“Strong and healthy communities are foundational for prosperity in rural America,” said assistant to the secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “Under the leadership of President Trump, we are committed at USDA to building innovative partnerships and driving more effective and efficient use of our resources to address the opioid misuse crisis at the local level.”

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