BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Enoch Pratt Free Library has launched a pilot project at its Pennsylvania Avenue branch that aims to help people struggling with drug addictions and trauma find the resources they need to get on the road to recovery.

The library partnered with the Maryland Peer Advisory Council and Healing City Baltimore to stand up the program, which places “peer navigators” with experience recovering from addictions, trauma, or life’s other difficulties to help direct people toward services that assist with substance use recovery, trauma, mental, and behavioral health, according to library staff.

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They will provide outreach services to individuals and families too.

The peer navigators have been working out of the library for a few weeks and during that time they were able to help more than 75 people, according to library staff.

City Councilman Zeke Cohen commended the program for the way it addresses the overdose crisis in Baltimore without attaching a stigma to it and the people it is harming.

Mental health is a disorder and not a personal failing, Cohen said.

“This type of innovation and commitment to equity is at the core of the Healing City Act and will truly move Baltimore forward,” he said.

The Elijah Cummings Healing City Act was passed in 2020. The legislation was designed to train city agency heads to effectively respond to and treat trauma.

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Cohen sponsored the bill and named it the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act to honor the late congressman and his efforts on addressing childhood trauma.

“Introducing peers in the library reduces the stigma and provides an inclusive, trauma-informed space for individuals or family members to engage in conversation, be supported, and connect to support and services,” Tiffinee Scott with the Maryland Peer Advisory Council said.

Peer navigators will be at the library on Tuesdays from noon to 3 p.m. They are also available via appointment, library staff said.

Baltimore’s libraries have been slowly evolving into help centers.

During the summer of 2021, library employees received training on how to understand the communities around the libraries and provide its members with better resources and connections as part of Baltimore’s Trauma-Informed Task Force.

The task force was born out of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act that passed in 2020.

Baltimore City is the first city in America to legislate trauma-informed care.

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If you’re interested in joining or volunteering, more information can be found here.

CBS Baltimore Staff