King County awards $500,000 in funding for the Recovery Café’s SODO location

32% of the homeless deaths investigated by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office were attributed to a drug overdose or alcohol poisoning, according to the most recent data from 2018. 

In 2020, overdose-related deaths in King County rose by 24%, with an increase of 118% over the last decade, according to another report from the office

 

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Recovery Cafe

Img: King County Medical Examiner’s Office

 

State of Reform spoke with King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, a committed advocate for substance abuse recovery, who said the overall rate of overdose deaths is actually even higher.

“One third of all of the deaths for homeless people in our county are a direct result of an overdose. One third [of the homeless community] will freely admit they have a substance disorder, but we know it’s way higher than that, somewhere in the 80% range…we need to support those systems that tend to take people away from substance abuse.”

According to Dunn, the economic and physical uncertainty coupled with the isolation related to the quarantine has led to a substantial set of public health challenges related to substance abuse disorder and mental health.

 

Recovery Cafe

Img: King County Medical Examiner’s Office

 

To help those struggling with addiction, the King County Council recently approved a supplemental budget that included Dunn’s request for $500,000 in funding for the Recovery Café in SODO.

The Recovery Café’s executive director, David Coffey, told State of Reform about some of the work the café is doing to reduce substance abuse among the homeless population.

“The Recovery Café is a recovery support center for people who are unhoused or have experienced being unhoused…The majority of the people that come to Recovery Café would identify as having a substance use disorder, or another mental health challenge, and sometimes both.”

Dunn had this to say regarding the funding: 

“The Recovery Café is a really important, classic example of a safety net program that is working and being effective in our community…There is enormous potential for good work to be done. When the government and private sector get together in this area, there’s a lot of great work that we can do that hasn’t been done.”

Coffey has this to add:

“The funding from the county council will help continue to innovate at the Recovery Café’s SODO location. There will be a medical clinic onsite through a partnership with Country Doctor, who will provide everyday treatment services.

The synergy that we can create, I think the potential is incredible…I think it will be incredibly successful and again could be a national model.”