De Blasio Moves to Bring Safe Injection Sites to New York City

The plan requires 4 websites to open after a 6- to 12-month interval of outreach to the communities the place they are going to be positioned. They would function as pilot packages for a yr.

At the websites, which might be referred to as Overdose Prevention Centers, skilled employees could be obtainable to administer drugs, reminiscent of naloxone, to counteract drug overdoses. Social employees would even be available to presumably counsel drug customers within the hope that they may very well be steered into packages supposed to assist them with their habit.

The websites could be financed and run by nonprofit teams approved by town, and could also be positioned inside social service suppliers that already function needle alternate websites.

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Activist teams have been pressuring Mayor de Blasio to throw his weight behind creating protected injection websites in New York, staging a number of acts of civil disobedience in protest.

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Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

The mayor’s workplace mentioned that the facilities could be positioned in Washington Heights and Midtown West in Manhattan; the Longwood part of the Bronx; and Gowanus, Brooklyn.

“After a rigorous review of similar efforts across the world, and after careful consideration of public health and safety expert views, we believe overdose prevention centers will save lives and get more New Yorkers into the treatment they need to beat this deadly addiction,” Mr. de Blasio mentioned in an announcement.

Mr. de Blasio has confronted stress from activist teams who help protected injection websites, and who’ve staged demonstrations at City Hall which have included civil disobedience, with quite a few protesters, together with City Council members, arrested.

But even because the mayor unveiled his plan, he appeared to be doing so at arm’s size. On Thursday morning, he held a information convention on the sunny Brooklyn waterfront to focus on ferry service, with no point out of the injection websites.

City Hall officers refused to make Mr. de Blasio obtainable for an interview; the earliest he may reply questions concerning the plan could be Friday, in his weekly look on New York Public Radio.

The plan is predicated on a report commissioned in 2016 by the City Council and pushed by the Council speaker, Corey Johnson, when he was chairman of the well being committee. The report was accomplished months in the past however its launch was delayed by City Hall because the mayor weighed his resolution.

“This is ultimately about saving lives while we have a major opioid crisis in New York City and around the country,” Mr. Johnson mentioned on Thursday, after talking with Mr. de Blasio concerning the proposal.

The letter despatched on Thursday from Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio to Howard A. Zucker, the state well being commissioner, requested him to authorize or license 4 injection websites. The letter mentioned that Dr. Zucker had the authority to allow such websites in the event that they have been a part of a “research study.”

“You are authorized to license research studies that may include the possession of controlled substances,” the letter mentioned. It cited as a precedent the authorization by the state well being commissioner of needle exchanges within the early 1990s. Those exchanges started as an effort to halt the unfold of H.I.V. amongst drug customers who shared needles.

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As just lately as Wednesday, activists have been arrested after staging acts of civil obedience to name consideration to a report commissioned in 2016 by the City Council on protected injection websites. The report’s launch was delayed because the mayor weighed his resolution.

Credit
Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

The state well being division mentioned that it might evaluate town’s request. “We of course support the mission of reducing opioid-related deaths and have been studying multiple options for combating the opioid epidemic,” Gary Holmes, a spokesman, mentioned in an emailed assertion.

The most critical impediment to the protected injection websites will be the federal authorities. A bit of federal legislation often known as the crack home statute makes it unlawful to personal, hire or function a location for the aim of unlawfully utilizing a managed substance.

The enforcement of the statute within the case of protected injection websites, nonetheless, could be up to the discretion of federal authorities. While it’s unclear how the Trump Justice Department will reply to town’s proposal, the legal professional common, Jeff Sessions, has taken a tough line on drug coverage.

“We don’t believe a president who has routinely voiced concern about the national opioid epidemic will use finite federal law enforcement resources to prevent New York City from saving lives,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, mentioned in a written assertion.

Advocates for the websites level out that needle exchanges have been thought-about unlawful once they started, and they’re now commonplace; in 2015, for instance, when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he put aside his ethical opposition to needle exchanges and allowed a program to stem the flood of H.I.V. circumstances.

There have been 1,441 drug overdose deaths in New York City final yr, in accordance to a research commissioned by the City Council, a rise from 1,374 deaths in 2016. Officials have mentioned that extra individuals die of overdoses in New York than the mixed complete of deaths by homicide, suicide and automobile crashes. In knowledge for the primary 9 months of 2017, Brooklyn, essentially the most populous borough, had the best variety of overdose deaths with 260. The Bronx, with a smaller inhabitants, was second with 250.

The Bronx and Staten Island have the best fee of overdose deaths. In 2016, the Bronx noticed 32 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents, and Staten Island had 30 deaths per 100,000.

Eric Gonzalez and Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorneys for Brooklyn and Manhattan, mentioned that they supported the mayor’s plan. Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx district legal professional, mentioned that she was “open-minded on the matter” and wanted extra data to draw a conclusion.

San Francisco could also be on observe to be the primary American metropolis to open a protected injection web site. Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, mentioned that officers anticipated to open two facilities within the late summer season or the autumn — though officers there had beforehand mentioned they hoped to open them by July. She mentioned officers have been “addressing the legal and siting issues.”

Philadelphia introduced in January that it anticipated to open websites inside 18 months.

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