Mayors Urge Congress to Fund DOJ Opioid Grants Programs

13 mayors are urging Congress to put the $103 million authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in July into federal opioid grants.

Earlier this week 13 mayors representing more than *19 million people wrote to the chairs of both the House of Representatives and Senate Appropriations Committees urging Congress to provide the $103 million authorized for existing U.S. Department of Justice opioid grants programs.

The mayors indicate that their cities need the money to train police, fire and emergency medical services in emergency overdose reversal drug administration, along with programs that reverse the opioid trend. These programs, recommended by the DOJ, include implementing alternatives to incarceration, curtailing unlawful distribution of prescription opioids, prescription drug take-back programs.

The signatories noted that while the opioid epidemic is national in scope, it is experienced “most intimately at the local level,” where first-responders must confront the results of opioid addiction and overdose. They specifically called out the need to to help exponentially-increasing addiction rates among women, veterans and the elderly.

The letter shared recent skyrocketing statistics, like the 173 overdose deaths Massachusetts experienced in June, and the 174 heroin overdoses that occurred recently in Cincinnati over a six-day period. The mayors also appealed to the cost burden cities are experiencing and why the federal opioid grants are so vital.

Rates of addiction and overdose from opioid abuse have rapidly outpaced local governments’ ability to effectively respond to and manage the epidemic and are straining already-limited resources. For example, the City of Cincinnati budgeted $100,000 for Narcan in its recently budget; only two months into its budget year, the City has spent $125,000,” the mayors wrote.

According to the Seattle Times, Mayor Edward Murray of Seattle, Wash., indicated that the mayors are banding together because they all need the help of the federal governments and the opioid grants. “Local governments alone cannot solve this complex problem and I join my fellow mayors in urging Congress to fully fund the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act,” he said.

Seattle recently started a program where bike police carry Naloxone.

The letter was signed by the following mayors:

  • John Giles of Mesa, Ariz. (pop. 464,682)
  • Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson, Ariz. (pop. 527,948)
  • Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Calif. (pop. 3.9M)
  • Edwin Lee of San Francisco, Calif. (pop. 852,469)
  • Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Mass. (pop. 656,051)
  • Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Md. (pop. 622,793)
  • Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis, Minn. (pop. 407,181)
  • Francis Slay of St. Louis, Mo. (pop. 317,419)
  • Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nev. (pop. 231,103)
  • Bill de Blasio of New York, N.Y. (pop. 8.5M)
  • John Cranley of Cincinnati, Ohio (pop. 298,162)
  • James Kenney of Philadelphia, Penn. (pop. 1.6M)
  • Edward B. Murray of Seattle, Wash. (pop. 668,337)

Read the letter on the Mayor of Seattle’s website.

*All population data sources at

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.