Last week, a national $26 billion opioid settlement was announced that will bring $750 million to North Carolina. Based on the North Carolina Memorandum of Agreement that New Hanover County is part of, $750 million will come to the state through this settlement and then 85% of the funds will be allocated to local governments. New Hanover County will receive 2.89% of the locally-allocated opioid settlement funds, which will be approximately $18.4 million to be paid out over an 18-year period. This funding should start in the second quarter of this year.
See a statement from New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman about this settlement and the funding for the community:
This is a milestone in New Hanover County's fight against the opioid crisis and holding those most responsible for this pain responsible. We were among the first in the nation, and the first in North Carolina, to file suit against these drug distributors for the roles they played in the opioid crisis, and I am proud that our county has continued to be integral in getting the justice our community deserves.
Utilizing these opioid settlement funds and the county's $50 million Mental and Behavioral Health Fund that was established from the sale of the hospital, the county will develop a comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder strategy that will ensure a sustained commitment to this issue over many years. We plan to coordinate and partner with the city and our beach towns, Novant Health, Trillium Health Resources, and other key stakeholders in our community to build a path forward and out of this crisis.
New Hanover County has been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic for far too long, and the crisis continues to severely impact our community. From 2016 through 2020, 411 of our residents died of an unintentional overdose according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Ninety-seven of those deaths occurred in 2020 alone.
These deaths are heartbreaking and the families torn apart will never be the same. But New Hanover County is committed to evidence-based addiction treatment and prevention, support for our residents through recovery, and helping individuals with the resources they need - so that we can emerge from this crisis and save lives and families.
New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet served as a member of the opioid settlement working group, also known as the 555 committee, that consisted of five commissioners, five county managers, and five county attorneys from across the state. The group met regularly with a team from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and North Carolina Department of Justice to help maximize North Carolina's share of the $26 billion national settlement fund and ensure the majority of settlement funds came directly to local governments in order to help communities as quickly, effectively, and directly as possible.
In addition to the work that will be accomplished through the county's strategy for mental health and substance use, a key initiative already underway is The Healing Place of New Hanover County, which will be a 200 bed, peer-led residential drug and alcohol recovery facility available at no cost to men and women seeking treatment for addiction. The county is constructing the facility and it is set to open this fall.
As additional plans and strategies are developed for New Hanover County, the community will be kept informed.