June 10, 2022
CONTACT: Jasmine Budnella, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-480-5262
GOVERNOR HOCHUL MUST ACT FOLLOWING NYS LEGISLATURE’S FAILURE TO ADDRESS UNPRECEDENTED OVERDOSE CRISIS
Both Houses Failed to Pass Life-saving Bill that Meets this Moment of Unprecedented Loss, Even After Seeing 300+ Lives Saved at Overdose Prevention Centers in NYC
More New Yorkers Die from Preventable Overdose than to Car Accidents, Suicides, and Homicides Combined
ALBANY, N.Y. — After another devastating and unprecedented year of preventable overdose deaths, the New York State legislature failed to pass a single piece of legislation that will turn the tide on the surging overdose crisis. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins refused to pass the Safer Consumption Services Act (S.603/A.224) – a bill to authorize Overdose Prevention Centers statewide. In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to leaders of the Users Union:
“We have run out of time for political games in addressing the overdose crisis. We are dying at historic rates, and instead of our elected leaders giving us the opportunity to live and access Overdose Prevention Centers, they again choose to use our lives as bargaining chips for votes. This is not the leadership the overdose crisis requires – it’s deadly and failed.
We won’t stop fighting for our communities and our humanity – how many more fathers, mothers, children, and community members will die before the Governor responds? Governor Hochul must choose courage over stigma, and use her power to authorize Overdose Prevention Centers immediately.”
The overdose crisis in New York State is at its absolute worst. The state experienced over 5,700 preventable overdose deaths in 2021, an overdose death every 90 minutes. All data suggests that every year will continue to be record-breaking compared to the last.
The Safer Consumption Services Act would authorize Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs) state-wide, building off of the proven success of 35+ years of this public health model used around the world, and the incredible results from the nation’s first Overdose Prevention Centers in NYC. In the six months since opening, OnPoint (the non-profit operating the two OPCs), has intervened in 314 overdoses that would otherwise have been fatal, saving the city countless dollars in emergency health services.
The Safer Consumption Services Act (S.603/A.224) received broad support throughout this legislative session:
- The bill passed the NY Assembly health committee
- Letters of support were circulated from 250 healthcare professionals and 230 community members and institutions
More broadly, polling shows the majority of New Yorkers (64%) support Overdose Prevention Centers, and NYC Mayor Eric Adams expressed firm support for expanding and funding Overdose Prevention Centers to operate 24 hours.