May 29, 2018

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR 5.30: Direct Action to Demand Gov. Cuomo Authorize Safer Consumption Spaces (SCS) Pilot

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR 5.30: Direct Action to Demand Gov. Cuomo Authorize Safer Consumption Spaces (SCS) Pilot

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Wednesday, May 30, 11:00a.m. EST

CONTACT:  Reed Vreeland, 917-573-6328, r.vreeland@housingworks.org  • Mika De Roo, 347-585-6051, m.deroo@housingworks.org • Jasmine Budnella, 720-480-5262, jasmine@vocal-ny.org • Kassandra Frederique, 646-209-0374, kfrederique@drugpolicy.org 

Direct Action to Demand Governor Cuomo Authorize Safer Consumption Spaces (SCS) Pilot

Governor Andrew Cuomo must follow the public health literature and authorize safer consumption spaces in New York State in order to decrease overdose death and increase referral to health care and drug treatment.

Albany, NY — A group protesting alarmingly high rates of overdose deaths in New York State will stage a civil disobedience direct action in front of Governor Cuomo’s office in the Capitol Building in Albany on Wednesday, May 30, at 11:00am to demand that the Governor authorize a pilot program for safer consumption spaces (SCS) to reduce overdose deaths, improve drug user health, and increase access to drug treatment. From 2013 to 2015, 7,213 New Yorkers died of overdose, and unless Cuomo takes action to implement interventions that have proven to work in other jurisdictions, the statewide epidemic of overdose deaths will be an appalling part of his legacy as Governor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Mayor Svante Myrick of Ithaca have endorsed conducting a closely monitored SCS pilot in their cities and are awaiting an approval letter from State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker. Public health literature shows that SCS is the best opportunity to introduce people who are injecting drugs to buprenorphine, counseling, primary care, HIV and hepatitis C treatment, and to encourage them into treatment and recovery.

“We have been in conversations with the State Department of Health and the Governor’s office for a year now, and submitted a formal pilot proposal in the fall of 2017. In discussions with the State, various concerns were raised, including local political support and law enforcement support. We have now addressed all of the concerns, including securing the support of two mayors, three NYC District Attorneys, and other local elected officials. We have proposed strict guidelines for the pilot. We have secured a world-class principle investigator who is hard at work designing the research protocols. We have also conducted a statewide public education campaign. There is nothing at this point that would stop the Health Commissioner from approving the guidelines and issuing a letter of approval, except a political decision by Governor Cuomo as to whether or not he truly wants to save lives and lead the nation in the grips of an overdose epidemic,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works.

WHAT: Protest of Governor Cuomo’s Inaction on Preventing Overdose Deaths 

WHERE: Capitol Building, Governor’s Office, Albany, NY

WHEN: Wednesday, May 30, 11:00am

Nearly 100 safer consumption spaces (SCS) exist around the world. They have been rigorously evaluated and shown to steeply reduce overdose deaths, HIV and viral hepatitis infections, and public disorder, and to increase access to drug treatment and other healthcare. Millions of injections have taken place at some of them, yet not one overdose death has been documented in these facilities.

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted to support the development of pilot safer consumption spaces. The New York Academy of Medicine and Massachusetts Medical Society also both publicly support safer consumption spaces, and the Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of research supporting safer consumption spaces. In April 2017, more than 100 New York City healthcare professionals signed an open letter in support of safer consumption spaces, urging elected representatives to adopt them as a public health intervention to prevent overdose deaths.

Video of End Overdose NY advocates disrupting Governor Cuomo’s speech on May 24 at the New York State Democratic Convention to demand he join numerous stakeholders, experts, pols, and medical providers—including the AMA, NYC Health Dept. & the Mayors of NYC and Ithaca—in approving and supporting Safer Consumption Spaces (#SCS) now to help end the epidemic of overdose deaths in NY State.

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Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts.

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