New York City has sanctioned the city’s first shooting galleries for drug users in the United States, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced in a Tuesday statement.
The city is expected to open the injection sites in East Harlem and Washington Heights, and the facilities could open as soon as Tuesday.
The New York Post reports:
The locations were chosen based on “health need and depth of program experience,” according to the Health Department. The sites will provide clean needles and social services, but users must bring their own drugs. Last year, over 2,000 New Yorkers died of drug overdoses, the highest since the city started tracking the figures in 2000. The most common drug involved in the fatalities is opioids. Between January and March this year, another 596 people lost their lives due to addiction. A city Health Department study found that the sites could save up to 130 people a year.
The sites will be operated by the nonprofit organization OnPoint NYC.
“Being the 1st OPC site in the US is an honor & incredible step forward in ending the opioid crisis,” the group said of the news.
For more than 29 years, we have dedicated our lives to ending #overdose deaths & the criminalization & stigma associated with substance use. Being the 1st OPC site in the US is an honor & incredible step forward in ending the #overdosecrisis #wearethemedicine #THISSITESAVESLIVES pic.twitter.com/3NuuDCSh9C
— NYHRE (@NYHarmReduction) November 30, 2021
“Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis. I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” de Blasio said.
Speaking to the Post, New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) expressed doubt about the plan’s effectiveness to curb drug usage in the city.
“British Columbia has led North America in safe injection sites, all while crossing overdose death milestones every month. How anyone can see this as a solution to a serious problem is beyond me, never mind the concerns of the neighbors,” Borelli said.
A plan by De Blasio to open four locations in the city was previously opposed by former President Donald Trump and disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).