Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,200,000)
Minnesota Addiction Recovery Initiative (MARI), a collaborative regional project that will implement the Safe Station program, self-referral approach, with active outreach to serve people in high-risk communities of Minneapolis, Minnesota where SUD and OUD related traumas and death occur at a higher rate than surrounding areas. This project will be led by the Minneapolis Fire Department in collaboration with Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services, Twin Cities Recovery Project, Inc., and a coalition of community organizations. The goal of this project is to engage Peer Recovery Coaches and outreach experts to reduce the unmet needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with substance use disorders. The US Census Bureau’s 2019 estimates indicate that Hennepin County is home to approximately 1.2 million people, with 429,000 in the City of Minneapolis. Socially and economically, people often consider the Twin Cities to be one community, and residents tend to live and work in the region as if it were one. However, there are pockets of disparities that are important to understand. For example, while overall poverty rates in Hennepin County are relatively low (9.7%), poverty is concentrated in pockets within Minneapolis. A recent analysis identified 41 high poverty census tracts within the Twin Cities, including Near North & Phillips in Minneapolis. The MARI project will help establish trust within the community and city agencies that will allow residents, from the most underserved populations in the city of Minneapolis, to experience low threshold access to treatment, services, programs, and resources that historically have been hard to access or unavailable for individuals from the African American, Native American, and other BIPOC communities. This project will also bring a higher level of awareness to the community and partners of the MARI project that will be an aide to reducing stigma and other barriers that are present for people who suffer from SUD/OUD; while providing a safe space for those who are seeking help in navigating a self- driven path to recovery find the resources and support that are needed to make a lifesaving and changing choices. An opportunity to do so may not have been accessible for these individuals prior to the “Safe Station program”, due to judgement, stigma, and poor treatment by professionals within city health care agencies.