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Electeds & Statewide Coalition Launch Legislative Effort to Create “Safer Consumption Spaces” in New York State
Coalition promises aggressive campaign amid skyrocketing overdose deaths, and growing support across the country for supervised injection facilities
Albany, NY: New York State legislators will join a statewide coalition to launch an aggressive legislative campaign to create safer consumption spaces (SCSs), also known as supervised injection facilities (SIFs), in New York State. The coalition, known as “End Overdose NY,” is comprised of public health and healthcare professionals, faith leaders, family members of those struggling with opioid dependency, drug treatment providers as well as people in recovery, and those still actively using drugs. Speakers will focus on the urgent need for these life-saving programs in the wake of New York’s overdose crisis which kills more people than traffic accidents, homicides and suicides combined. In addition, the coalition will point to how states and cities across the nation have taken steps to implement the well-researched facilities.
Earlier in the day, the coalition will be holding a legislative briefing on the “End Overdose New York” drug policy platform, a 3-point program for a comprehensive and compassionate response to ending overdose across the state.
What: Safer Consumption Services Act (A8534) Rally/Press Event
When: January 29, 1:30-2:30pm
Where: Legislative Office Building, Room 130 (LCA press room)
- Assm. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan)
- Assm. Richard Gottfried
- Assm. Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo)
- Assm. Diana Richardson (D-Brooklyn)
- Assm. Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx)
- Shantae Owens and Tom Blaszek, VOCAL-NY
- Kassandra Frederique, Drug Policy Alliance
- Gwen Wilkinson, former District Attorney, Tompkins County
- John Barry, Southern Tier AIDS Project
- Cortney Lovell, OurWellnessCollective
- Charles King, Housing Works
- Liz Evans, co-founder of InSite, director of Washington Heights Corner Project/New York Harm Reduction Educators
- Samara Gabree, Whitney Young Medical
- Howard Josepher, Exponents (drug treatment program)
- Sheila Hand, Families for Sensible Drug Policy
- Alexis Pleus, TruthPharm
- National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
- Harm Reduction Coalition
At the press conference, speakers will urge New York State to pass the Safe Consumption Services Act (A8534). The act would allow health departments to authorize community based organizations to establish safer consumption spaces (SCSs), places where people can use pre-obtained drugs in a controlled environment with point-of-care support from staff trained to help participants to make their drug use safer, to prevent and to respond to overdoses, and to provide linkage to health and supportive services.
Efforts have already begun. Last year, over 100 healthcare providers released a letter in support of SCS, as advocates traveled throughout the state with a mock SCS which garnered statewide media attention. New York State’s Department of Health has begun a conversation about launching a handful of research SCS pilot programs. And, the New York City Council allocated $100,000 last year to fund a feasibility study that still has not been released.
Momentum for safer consumption spaces is building across the country, with officials in Philadelphia announcing their plan to create Comprehensive User Engagement Sites (CUES), effectively safer consumption spaces, at a press conference on January 23, 2018. Last year, San Francisco’s city health officials said they could potentially open safe injection sites within 8-12 months. Kings County in Washington State has been approved to open an SCS. Maryland, Vermont, California, Maine and Massachusetts have all introduced legislation to approve the sites. Beyond academic research, a growing body of editorial boards and opinion pieces have highlighted the need: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, US News, Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun, Seattle Times, Bloomberg News, LA Times, The Nation, and the Boston Globe.