PRESS RELEASE: ‘If this funding is not extended…our people will die,’ NHRC director says

‘If this funding is not extended…our people will die,’ NHRC director says

Advocate network rallies for life-saving programs amidst budget talks

SACRAMENTO, CA, MAY 15, 2023 — Lives are on the line as legislators decide the California state budget, and advocates are fighting to renew funding that has saved thousands of lives in just the past three years alone. Advocates from across the state hosted a “Day of Action” rally at the California State Capitol today, drawing in over 100 people, where folks shared their lived experiences and stories about how this funding has made it possible to reverse nearly 40,000 overdoses the past three years alone.

The California Harm Reduction Initiative (CHRI) has funded nearly 40 programs the past 2.5 years, saving lives and making a positive impact on people who use drugs and the services that support them. If this critical funding is not renewed, the entire state will lose countless lives to overdose and other intersecting health crises including HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis — and one life lost is one too many. The people who are most impacted by these crises are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) folks and their loved ones, and funding cuts would widen fatal gaps in the care they need and deserve.

Through this critical program funding thus far, almost 22,700 people were trained to reverse overdoses and keep people alive, with 95% of people using life-saving naloxone provided by these very programs. Sixty-three programs distributed crucial supplies, making it possible for 761,235 naloxone/Narcan doses to be administered.

National Harm Reduction Coalition’s Acting Executive Director, Laura Guzman, said, “Make no mistake — if this grant funding is not extended, many Californians will die. Our people will die. We have a choice in ensuring life-saving programs that have saved thousands of lives in just under three years continue, and it’s our collective responsibility to make this happen.”

“As decades of research prove, harm reduction works. The services the California Syringe Exchange Programs network provides are imperative in making sure not only do our beloved neighbors and community members stay alive, but also live longer, healthier, fuller lives in which they can thrive. We cannot afford not to invest in the lives of our people,” she said.