New fund aims to help Kensington community groups address impacts of the opioid crisis

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Kensington, Philadelphia. (Max Marin/Billy Penn)

Kensington, Philadelphia. (Max Marin/Billy Penn)

Philadelphia has a new fund to help address the impact of the opioid epidemic on the city’s Kensington neighborhood.

The Kensington Resilience Fund, announced Tuesday, is a public-private partnership, and the money will be used to help residents have more direct control over the response to the crisis, said Joanna Otero-Cruz, Philadelphia’s Deputy Managing Director for Community Services.

“This community has had long-term disinvestment from the government as well, so acknowledging that has been important,” she said. “We have a long way to go. There are services in place but there is lots more work to be done.”

The announcement comes as new data released by the city show that 2020 is on track to be Philadelphia’s worst year on record for deaths from drug poisonings, and that a spike in overdoses hit Black and Latino residents hardest.

Otero-Cruz said the money will be directed by community groups to help address several issues, including public safety and gun violence, youth development and training, beautification and blight removal, connecting residents to resources, and addressing community trauma.

Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services, says the money will be used towards positive goals instead of fighting over scarce dollars in a limited pool of funds.

“The grants will be wonderful and grants will be implemented … but it’s also a shifting of power and the building of relationships to continue to strengthen them,” she said.

The goal is to use the money to serve as a catalyst for extended, sustained investment and partnership with funders in the community.

The money is destined for the Fairhill and Harrogate sections, and is specifically targeted at small groups that reflect the communities being served and are seeking funding that they cannot find elsewhere, officials said.

The awards will begin with a $10,000 operational support grant with hopes of finding additional money in the future to expand the program. A bilingual information session will be held on May 6 to help those who want to apply for the grants.

Proposals must be submitted by May 26, with the grants expected to be announced sometime in early July.

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