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A shelf life in federal funding to fight the opioid crisis is stalling progress for recovery centers in Northeast Ohio

Posted: 12:42 PM, Apr 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-05 16:42:03Z
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CLEVELAND — There’s a flaw in funding to help fight the opioid crisis in the Northeast Ohio community. New findings reveal the push by the federal government to get a hold of the problem is being hindered in a handful of ways.

The Bipartisan Policy Center uncovered some of the issues that could stall the progress we're starting to see right here in Northeast Ohio.

Addiction and recovery centers on the frontline of the crisis are now calling for change. It all boils down to the dollars and cents of treating addiction.

For example, The ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County is relying on a $3.5M federal grant to try and tackle the opioid epidemic.

"But the problem is on April 30 that money will all be gone," said Scott Osiecki, ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County.

Losing that cash-flow is now creating uncertainty for the programs that help addicts.

"Through medication-assisted treatment, through recovery housing," said Osiecki.

It's the same reality facing Anita Bradley and her staff over at the Northern Ohio Recovery Association.

"If you've got $500,000 to pay a staff in 2019 but you don't have it in 2020 that's a problem," said Bradley.

Much needed dollars from D.C. have a short shelf-life, usually for about a year or two at most.

"We're reacting to a crisis and we need to be proactive," said Bradley.

Bradley believes the timeline of these grants is unrealistic.

"Because it takes time to get started, so by the time you get started you got a short-term grant and the funding ends," said Bradley.

The Bipartisan Policy Center agrees, saying federal support must be provided over the long-term instead of annual budget cycles.

"It's a chronic problem and not something that's acute and going to go away. When you get going and making headway in helping people get the treatment that they need, getting into recovery then the funding gets pulled back again," said Osiecki.

Limitations on grants

Another issue is that there are usually limitations on the programs these one-time grants can fund.

"It kind of hinders us in the treatment field," said Osiecki.

Especially now, with an increase in the number of addicts in Northeast Ohio turning to meth and cocaine.

"We can't always go with strict rules and policies around how things should be, what they should look like," said Bradley.

Bradley said she is more concerned with who is eligible for the dollars and how quickly the state or county disperses them.

"That takes time for that, when if you just go directly to community-based organizations or just open up the eligibility pool more individuals in the community will have a chance to access those dollars meaning we can get the services to who needs it quicker," said Bradley.

The competition to secure these federal dollars is also increasing.

Just a few years ago, the Northern Ohio Recovery Association received 80% of its funding through six grants.

This year, they are down to just two.

We're also getting a better idea as to how much tax payer money is going into supporting these agencies.

Last year, a staggering $7.4 billion was spent. That’s up from $3.3 billion the year before.

RELATED: Hundreds, if not thousands, of needles found at Lorain home where 2 men died from opioid overdoses