May 10, 2022
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VOCAL-NY CELEBRATES PASSAGE OF THE SAFER CONSUMPTION SERVICES ACT THROUGH ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE, CALLS ON SENATE TO ACT
The Safer Consumption Services Act Would Authorize Overdose Prevention Centers to Open Across the State
In New York City, Overdose Prevention Centers Have Saved More Than 280 Lives from Fatal Overdoses
ALBANY, N.Y. – Today, in response to the passage of the The Safer Consumption Services Act (S603/A224) through the Assembly Health Committee, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to James Hill, a leader with VOCAL-NY’s User Union:
“We applaud the members of the Assembly Health Committee for ensuring that this life saving bill is one step closer to passing their house. Now, we need our electeds in the Senate to do the same. While Overdose Prevention Centers may not be necessary in all New York State districts, they are desperately needed in communities like mine in Buffalo. With only 10 session days left on the calendar, we need our leaders to step into their power, and find the political will to pass the Safer Consumption Services Act.”
Overdoses continue to surge across New York State. From November 2020 to November 2021, the CDC’s preliminary data shows 5,785 overdose deaths across NYS – the highest number of deaths recorded in a year. Across New York State, 15 New Yorkers are dying everyday, one person every 90 minutes, to preventable overdoses. Overdose continues to take more New Yorkers’ lives than car accidents, suicides, and homicides combined. Black and Brown New Yorkers’ rates of overdose continue to surge, while white New Yorkers’ rates are stabilizing or decreasing.
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 OnPoint’s opening, the two sites have intervened in 283 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.
Overdose Prevention Centers have received widespread support this session, including:
- Polling that shows the majority of New Yorkers (64%) support OPCs
- Editorials from Newsday, New York Daily News, and Times Union
- Opinion pieces in Gotham Gazette, Times Union, and Buffalo News
- A letter with 230 signers representing treatment providers, the harm reduction community, parents, legal advocates, public health institutions, people directly impacted, and other organizations from across New York State
- A letter from 250 healthcare professionals from across New York State