Philadelphia awards bulk of $3 million in opioid settlement grants to nonprofits working in North Philly and Kensington

The Philadelphia Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund was created with the city’s share of settlement dollars from national opioid lawsuits.

Kensington sidewalk

The sidewalk on Kensington Ave. near Allegheny Ave. in Philadelphia a day after the city cleared possessions, trash, and people experiencing homelessness, May 9, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Philadelphia is prioritizing some of its opioid settlement dollars for overdose prevention, addiction treatment and social services in communities most affected by the opioid epidemic.

About 43 nonprofit organizations will get a total of $3.1 million in grants this year from the city’s Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund, with a majority of them doing work specifically in North Philly and Kensington — two areas with the highest number of annual drug overdose deaths.

City officials and community leaders announced the awards Wednesday at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, a grant recipient.

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“Opportunities save lives, I truly believe that,” said Sylvia Spivey, executive director at Mercy. “There’s not one solution to the opioid crisis or any of the issues that face our city. We are all working to create a system of safe havens and wrap-around services for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

This is the second round of community grant awards from the Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund, which was created in 2022 when the city began receiving settlement payouts from national lawsuits against opioid drug companies for their roles in the addiction epidemic.

Philadelphia is set to receive more than $200 million in settlement dollars over 18 years, with more money expected from additional and pending lawsuits. The healing fund, overseen by the Scattergood Foundation, is just one of the city’s spending programs.

The awards were broken into three focus areas: Kensington, North Philly and citywide. Each category had its own group of community members who helped review applications and choose recipients.

Nonprofit and grassroots groups are awarded either $100,000 program grants or $20,000 organizational support grants.

North Philly Project executive director Aaron Wells said the organization will use the funds to provide peer-to-peer support, healing arts, trauma-informed grief counseling for families who’ve lost loved ones to drug use and other services.

“We have to understand that the people who are suffering through opioid addiction are not statistics, they’re neighbors,” Wells said. “And we have to understand that there’s a responsibility that we all have that if this neighborhood or this community or this city is to actually live its potential, it’s going to take every single one of us.”

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City officials said they plan to announce additional awards and opioid settlement spending projects later this year.

A full list of healing fund grant awards and projects can be found online.

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