Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Federal agencies announce initiatives in telemedicine, housing to deal with opioid epidemic in rural areas

The federal government has taken several steps recently toward fighting the opioid epidemic in rural areas, including a program to help create transitional housing for recovering opioid addicts.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will partner with the Department of Agriculture on the program, according to a press release. Through it, USDA-owned single-family housing units will be available for sale at a discount to nonprofits that provide housing, treatment, job training and other services for people in addiction recovery.

The USDA recently announced that it would give first consideration to opioid treatment projects that apply for its Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.

"The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country," Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett said. "With this focused investment, we are targeting our resources to be a strong partner to rural communities to build innovative local responses to this significant challenge."

Hazlett will soon leave her role in Rural Development to serve as the senior advisor for rural affairs for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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