AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, community members impacted by overdoses and homelessness will hold a town hall with Austin officials to discuss solutions.
According to a press release from the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance, the town hall will address "needed harm reduction tools and housing ahead of upcoming budget negotiations."
Data from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office shows that fatal overdoses were up from 107 in 2021 compared to 35 in 2020. Overall, accidental drug overdoses were also up with 293 in 2021 compared to 245 in 2020.
According to an estimate from the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) published in May of last year, approximately 3,160 people experience homelessness on any given night in Austin. The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance says those individuals face disproportionate risk to preventable overdoses.
The press release states that Tuesday's town hall will come on the heels of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy releasing a drug control strategy that the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance calls "conflicting," as it "centers some harm reduction tactics but increases criminalization through its enforcement."
Tuesday's town hall will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Austin, located at 901 Trinity St. Austin-Travis County EMS leaders, Travis County Judge Andy Brown, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza and Austin City Council members Vanessa Fuentes (District 2) and Ann Kitchen (District 5) are among the local leaders expected to participate in the event.
Cosponsoring organizations for the town hall are the Alliance for Safety and Justice, Austin EMS Association, Austin Justice Coalition, Communities for Recovery, Grassroots Leadership, Queertopia, Sunrise Navigation Center, The Other Ones Foundation, Texas Fair Defense Project and the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance.
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