With overdose rates over 30% higher for homeless individuals, RIZE grant initiative will focus on harm reduction and treatment for opioid use
Back in June, we received word that Boston Health Care for the Homeless (BHCHP) and partner agencies St. Francis House and Pine Street Inn were awarded a RIZE grant to offer services specifically designed to reduce the risk of opioid use and overdose deaths Since that time we have collaborated to frame a program that will be implemented at St. Francis House in the next few weeks. The program will enhance our ability to do outreach and engagement with people who are using opioids, and connect them to treatment, as well as expand the number of people who can access medication-assisted treatment (MAT) at St. Francis House.
This program offers a new way of reaching our St. Francis House guests who are most at risk. We believe that if we very intentionally engage individuals with opiate addiction in non-judgmental ways, free of stigma, they will be less at risk of fatal overdose and far more likely to seek the treatment they need for their condition. This approach and program model further enhances the many strengths we have in connecting with our guests, and gives us additional resources to make a difference.
RIZE in action
BHCHP and ST. Francis House are creating cross-agency teams which leverage our relative strengths to make this happen. This month, we will be moving a BHCHP nurse and “monitoring chair” into one of our Atrium offices with the goal of assisting our guests who are over-sedated or otherwise feeling the effects of opoid use. St. Francis House has added a new position as well, a Harm Reduction Specialist, who will work to engage people who are using or are addicted to substances, reduce their risk of overdose, and to conduct important relationship- and trust-building activities that can lead to treatment. In addition, we are working with BHCHP to increase the number of people who can have access to suboxone, a medication used to treat opiate addiction. We have hired a Recovery Coach as well—a peer who is in recovery him/herself who will provide ongoing recovery support to those who are being treated with suboxone.