April 4, 2022
CONTACTJasmine Budnella, Jasmine@vocal-ny.org, 720-480-5262
Mariah McGough, Mariah@vocal-ny.org, 203-470-9979
SAFER CONSUMPTION SERVICES ACT: 230 ORGANIZATIONS, SERVICE PROVIDERS, FAMILIES IMPACTED BY THE OVERDOSE CRISIS, AND PEOPLE DIRECTLY IMPACTED URGE LEGISLATURE TO PASS LIFE-SAVING LEGISLATION
The Nation’s First Overdose Prevention Centers Have Saved Over 210 Lives in Less than Four Months of Operation in New York City
ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, in a show of overwhelming support, 230 groups representing treatment providers, homeless advocates, leaders in the AIDS movement, the harm reduction community, civil rights organizations, parents, legal advocates, public health institutions, people directly impacted, and other organizations from across New York State release a letter calling for action on the overdose crisis. The letter, addressed to Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, calls for the passage of the Safer Consumption Services Act (S603/A224) – which would authorize Overdose Prevention Centers in high need areas across New York State.
“All data sets and recent trends suggest that fatal overdoses will continue to break records year after year unless our government takes significant action to implement evidence-based solutions. Overdose Prevention Centers build on New York State’s long history of implementing innovative community-based harm reduction strategies to address the overdose crisis. Passing the Safer Consumption Services Act will save countless lives, and at this watershed moment in the overdose crisis – stalling on this lifesaving piece of legislation will have fatal consequences,” the groups state in the letter.
For years, activists fought to implement Overdose Prevention Centers — only to be blocked for years by former Governor Cuomo – all while overdose deaths continued to rise to record levels. The then-Governor signaled his support for Overdose Prevention Centers during the Gubernatorial debate, only to stall post-election — suggesting he’d rather play politics rather than fulfill a moral obligation to address the overdose crisis.
On November 30, 2021, Mayor de Blasio and the City’s Health Department approved two Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs) to open in New York City in response to 2020 having the highest number of preventable overdose deaths in a single year. The two OPCs, operated by the non-profit OnPoint, are co-located within previously established Syringe Service Programs in Washington Heights and East Harlem, two areas with high concentrations of overdoses. Since opening, the sites have intervened in 211 overdoses, which would have otherwise been fatal. This number exceeds the city Health Department’s original prediction of 130 lives being saved over the course of a year.