With little fanfare, Mayor de Blasio late yesterday afternoon gave a tentative green light to a plan for four facilities that would be known as “safe injection sites” – locations where heroin users could shoot up under the watch of medical professionals.
Experts say these places save lives. They provide clean needles to addicts, have overdose medications on-site, and also give users information when particularly dangerous batches of drugs are being sold on the street.
But while some people say they support these sites in theory, it will likely be a different story when they’re told that one of them is opening down the street from their home.
Just as homeless shelters face Not In My Neighborhood pushback, you can be sure that some residents of Washington Heights, Midtown, Longwood in The Bronx, and Gowanus will unite to fight these sites should they move forward.
For the mayor and the City Council to win support for the plan, they need to embrace it. Last year, 1,441 people died from overdoses in the city and there are already plenty of “unsafe injection sites” across the five boroughs that are problem spots for neighborhoods and the NYPD. In addition, Governor Cuomo and his Health Department should say whether they support the sites or have a better plan for the deadly status quo.
A recovering addict himself, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson appeared on “Inside City Hall” last night and explained his support for the program: "The war on drugs has failed. Let's connect these people to treatment and hopefully save some lives.”
There could be a war to make these sites a reality. Let’s see if the Mayor is really ready to fight for them rather than just make an announcement late in the afternoon.