PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Amid outcry from the community, Mayor Jim Kenney has put the brakes on a proposed safe-injection site in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. There was a location already picked out and a lease established at just $1 a year, but after a meeting with concerned residents in Kensington, Kenney has decided to put the plan on hold.
In the area of Kensington and Allegheny, you either witness the effects of heroin or you use it.
“I have overdosed and was saved several times,” a man named Will said.
For some struggling with addiction, a decriminalized area to inject heroin under the supervision of medical staff held promise of cutting down overdose rates.
“Last week, I think I lost two friends,” Will said.
But others who live near the proposed Hilton Street site, believe it would only perpetuate the problem.
A community meeting on Monday got heated when residents who disapprove of the site voiced their concerns.
Kenney released a statement on the issue Wednesday.
“Valid public safety concerns have been raised by the community in and around Kensington, and I have informed Safehouse that those safety concerns must be addressed before the establishment of an OPS (overdose prevention site),” Kenney said in a statement.
For now, some residents who are opposed to the site are calling this a win.
“I think it’s a win because it stops people from coming here to get high, you’re basically enabling them to be high,” one resident said.
Dale is among the millions across the country who struggles with opioid addiction, and he too feels a safe-injection site isn’t the answer.
“If the police started arresting the people that were publicly intoxicated, after so many times of getting arrested, some of the people would say they’re fed up with going to jail and they would quit,” Dale said.
The conversation will continue. Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate among America’s largest cities with over 1,000 each year.