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May 8, 2018 / Brooklyn news / Boerum Hill / Health, Mind & Body

Mayor proposes safe-injection site for drug users in Gowanus — that’s actually in Boerum Hill

Safe space: Mayor DeBlasio announced he intends to open one of the country's first so-called safe-injection sites for opioid addicts at an existing needle-exchange facility in Gowanus — that is actually on the border of Park Slope and Boerum Hill.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Mayor DeBlasio pulled a fast one on Boerum Hillers on May 3 when he announced plans to open one of the nation’s first state-sanctioned drug-injection facilities at a needle-exchange site in Gowanus — that’s actually in the Hill.

Hizzoner wants to put the so-called safe-consumption site for opioid addicts inside an existing facility — where clean hypodermic needles and other resources are provided to drug users — at 80 Fourth Ave. between Bergen Street and Saint Marks Place, which is actually on the border of Boerum Hill and Park Slope.

And some Gowanusaurs said the mayor made a calculated decision to call the area Gowanus to avoid opposition from the Vocal New York needle exchange’s bougie next-door neighbors.

“Gowanus people tend to feel it’s a dumping ground anyway,” said Paul Basile, president of the business association, the Gowanus Alliance. “Had he said Boerum Hill, there would be torches outside City Hall right now.”

But as a former Brooklynite and Park Slope Councilman, who still owns a home on 11th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues within walking distance of the proposed safe-injection site, Mayor DeBlasio ought to know the geography of his one-time home a little better, according to some Boerum Hillers.

“I mean, come on, the guy’s lived in the Slope for a long time!” said Bill Harris, whose wife Jo Anne Simon represents the neighborhood up in Albany as a Democrat in the Assembly. “His apartment is just a few blocks from the proposed location!”

Harris, however, conceded the Fourth Avenue facility could work well as a safe-injection site, due to its proximity to mass transit and healthy distance from more family-oriented parts of town.

“It’s probably a very good location,” he said.

And when asked whether the mayor misspoke in naming the spot’s proposed neighborhood, a spokeswoman simply said the facility would serve people from the general area at large.

“The location will be finalized during the community-advisory process, but it will serve Gowanus, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

DeBlasio announced his plan to open the safe-consumption facility — along with three others in Manhattan and the Bronx — in the wake of what a recently released Department of Health study deemed the city’s deadliest year of overdose deaths on record, after 1,441 New Yorkers died from fatal doses in 2017.

“The opioid epidemic has killed more people in our city than car crashes and homicides combined,” DeBlasio said. “We believe overdose-prevention centers will save lives and get more New Yorkers the treatment they need to beat this deadly addiction.”

Health Department officials launched that study with $100,000 in taxpayer funds allocated by Council in 2016, riling some locals who worried that finding locations for the safe-injection facilities would be a controversial process akin to selecting homeless-shelter sites.

But before any addict can step in to shoot up under supervision, DeBlasio’s plan must be approved by the state Department of Health; Councilman Stephen Levin, whose district includes the current Vocal New York site; and District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who would need to refrain from prosecuting the users and facility staff who participate in the semi-legal drug consumption.

Gonzalez, however, quickly pledged his support for the initiative, after launching his own program in February that allows opioid addicts to avoid jail time by participating in counseling programs.

“We are in the midst of an overdose crisis,” the district attorney said. “I intend to work with the NYPD, local officials and members of the community to make sure that any facility opened in Brooklyn would be safely integrated into the community, and would connect substance users to treatment and other health and social programs.”

The mayor also has an ally in Levin, who wound up in handcuffs while protesting for the release of the Health Department’s study the day before it came out, according to a spokesman.

“We certainly think that kind of community effort was a factor in really moving the needle on this issue,” said Ed Paulino.

And officials at the state’s Health Department are currently reviewing DeBlasio’s proposal, an agency rep said.

“We have received [a letter from the mayor’s office] and the report, and look forward to thoroughly reviewing it,” said Gary Holmes. “We of course support the mission of reducing opioid-related deaths, and have been studying multiple options for combating the opioid epidemic.”

If the scheme is approved, Vocal New York staff would hire medical supervisors equipped with Naloxone — a drug usually administered as a nasal spray that quickly counteracts the effects of heroin — who could save hundreds from overdosing, according to safe-injection site proponents.

A facility in Canada, for example, reduced overdose fatalities by 35 percent, while another site in Australia lowered the death rate among users by a whopping by 80 percent, according to the city hygiene agency’s study.

And opening a facility in Brooklyn would also help clean up the borough, according to a Vocal New York leader, who said Brooklynites wouldn’t have to wait so long to use public bathrooms in particular.

“The idea with these programs, with any harm reduction program, is to have a place where people feel safe,” said Fred Wright. “They can come in and not try to use in a bathroom at Fulton Mall, and they can start to build connections of trust to address what’s going with them.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 6:51 pm, May 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Leah from Park Slope says:
This is a great start, but we need more of these things! Safe offices for money landerers! Safe hang-outs for gangs! Safe pleasure beds for brothels! Safe murder rooms for killers! Why do we force them to do their business in unsafe circumstances ??
May 5, 6:53 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Don't be a retard, Leah. Would you prefer junkies shoot up and overdose in the bathroom of your local McDonalds? Preventing you from gobbling down your precious Big Macs? I think not.
May 5, 8:17 am
William from Williamsburg says:
Good points Leah and quite normal and sound thinking, but in the Eurocentric world of the American ,liberal ,socialist you are the one that is wrong. See above.
May 5, 8:30 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
No I’d prefer junkies shooting up in their jail cells. Taking a cue from the Philippines and engaging in a real war on drugs would be an even better idea.
May 5, 11:05 am
BergenStreet from Boerum says:
We are a family that has lived around the corner from vocal on fourth Avenue between Saint Marks and Bergen Street for decades. What may not be known to most is that vocal already allows drug users to use the bathroom in their facility for up to 10 minutes uninterrupted and a lot of people are doing their drugs there already. While we have no objection to folks doing their drugs in vocal as a safe space what happens right outside our homes every day is quite disturbing and leaves us local residents feeling quite unsafe. The users often walk around the area In various hallucinatory states sometimes they pass out on the streets sometimes they defecate on themselves and lie on sidewalks and sometimes they are violent and threatening and often times it is quite scary to experience this (especially for young children) on our way to work or on our way to the very nearby elementary school. It is true that this area had been infested with drugs dens and crime during the 80s and early 90s however there is much less of a problem now and it seems that the vocal users are now the main visible source of drug activity in area even though they might not live here and some are homeless. Since vocal already acts as the de facto or unauthorized safe injection facility, i do not think supporting the expansion of this local pilot will do anything more than add to the number of users concentrating in this area and causing problems for local residents. There needs to be a different solution that supports everyone in the neighborhood.
May 5, 11:30 am
James from Brooklyn Heights says:
Coca-Cola
May 5, 1:22 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
Hey Henry Ford, maybe we should also execute people with heart disease or cancer? Lets kill off those with diabetes or mental illness while we're at it. Addiction is a disease, you daft idiot!
May 5, 3:11 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Addiction may be a disease, but it is self inflicted, and this does nothing to cure it - it enables it, makes injecting poison "safe".

So it's now ok, right?
May 5, 4:25 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
Where do you people get this ridiculous information from? Rufus, are you an addiction counselor? I didn't think so.
May 5, 4:55 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Ira thinks you catch addiction like a cold.

Better cover you mouth and nose during morphine and heroin season or you'll catch addiction!
May 5, 5:17 pm
Leah from Park Slope says:
Ira Levine - are you even addicted to drugs or are just talking out of your dirty azz?!
May 5, 6:34 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
Wow! I think I agree with Henry Ford, Leah is a retard, and Rufus is beyond retarded. 25 years as a drug / addiction counselor. You people need to get some education before you spout idiocracy.
May 5, 7:33 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
25 years, and things are now in a crisis stage. Maybe your approach needs another look.

Maybe a fourtheeth step program.
May 5, 7:57 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
I'm genuinely curious as to who or what slighted you people and made you the way you are. Your mother, father, brother, sister, or child could be an addict. Would you treat them with the same disdain? Nobody is immune to addiction. I have dedicated my life to helping people with addiction, what have you done besides judge those less fortunate than you? What made you lose your compassion for fellow humans? But continue to snark behind the safety of your keyboard, I feel sad for you. Good day.
May 5, 8:35 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
So this is your meal ticket, so the more junkies shooting up the more you have a growth industry.
May 5, 9:10 pm
Somebody from Somewhere says:
Where were all of these safe spaces when the crack era was booming in the 80s & 90s?
May 5, 9:14 pm
Felicia from Red Hook says:
What made Ira Levine so vicious angry and butthurt? You have some serious issues with other people, mister! Especially with women !
May 6, 3:10 am
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Junkies almost never get clean - mostly mostly
Become methadon addicts etc
Every junkie I have ever known is dead including those who ,cleaned up’

Why not put it in the heart of the slope
May 6, 12:45 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Let’s make Ira Levine’s stoop a safe space for junkies to shoot up. Or even just his block. Let’s see how quickly his tune changes then.
May 6, 3:41 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
The people above are not very Christian-like and seem to think they are above everyone else.
No Felecia, I am not butthurt and you are very childish.
No Rufus, I work for a Non Profit and you have added nothing to this conversation.
No Henry Ford, I wouldn't change my tune if "junkies shoot up on my stoop or even my block". Perhaps you missed the part about me dedicating my life to HELPING addicts. You are probably the same type of person who clutches their purse when an African-American walks by you.
I should hope you never need to ask for help when you fall on hard times.
Shame on all of you people!
May 6, 5:27 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
That is quite the straw man you have built there of your repressed racism and misogyny there, Ira. Keep that cash cow of yours at all costs, I guess. How sad.
May 6, 7:03 pm
Jonah from Prospect Place says:
The mayor doesn't know where Boerum Hill is, and the Brooklyn Paper doesn't know where St Marks Place is. St Marks Place is in Manhattan, on the LES. St Marks Ave is in Brooklyn, runs through Gowanus.
May 6, 7:11 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
Um, yeah. Like anyone is going to believe that coming from the guy who continuously posts racist & misogynistic hate speech on this blog. Not to mention bullying and challenging others to fist fights. I'm not new to this blog and I've seen your commenting history, especially your hatred towards African-Americans & Jews.
May 6, 7:34 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
lol, good one Vision Zero. I guess we know your deal now.
May 6, 7:37 pm
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
You need more help than I am trained for.
May 6, 8:20 pm
ProspectHeightsResident from Prospect Heights says:
Jonah, it seems that you don't know much about the borough either. There is a St. Marks Place in Brooklyn, too. St. Marks Place actually turns into St. Marks Avenue. Look up Google Street view (I think the change takes place around 4th or 5th Avenue).
May 6, 11:50 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"Safe injection sights" It's like a safe Russian Roulette sight.

Only a matter of time before some fine upstanding citizen gets a hot shot and od's in the place, or just has that OD farther down the road.

Meanwhile where do we get the $$$ for more smack?

Why out of the stuff you left in your car, out of your purse after we grab it, or in a push in at your house. And let's not forget the smash and grab.

Let's not address the problem, but coddle the junkies some more. Maybe we can talk them out of it.
May 7, 7:33 am
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
^^^It's odd how people with the least amount of knowledge on a subject, are the most vocal.^^^
Your fear isn't even based on anecdotes, your fear is based on what ifs and hypothetical situations. Have you ever been to a safe injection site? -It's SITE by the way, not SIGHT.
I'm not going to respond to that hateful bigot above, he should be banned from this blog.
May 7, 8:03 am
Drug Treatment Counselor from Brooklyn Heights says:
Keeping addicts in the community promotes illegal drug sales and crime. We should use the vacant jail space on Rikers Island to create a safe injection site that provides housing, food, medical treatment and the drug of choice to addicts. A second space should be designated for those who choose treatment where they can be safely detoxed and eventually released to the community. Anyone caught using drugs -- they are very easy to spot and catch -- should be brought to this site and given an option: use drugs safely or engage in treatment. Drug use is a disease of choice that needs to be contained for the public's safety.
May 7, 8:09 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Not what ifs = 50 years of living in the city.

Facts. And non profit does not mean no money. Keeping the problem alive vs. treatment is your meal ticket.
May 7, 8:22 am
Ira Levine from Park Slope says:
^^^It's odd how people with the least amount of knowledge on a subject, are the most vocal.^^^
May 7, 8:26 am
IAMRIGHTAGAIN from ALL5BOROS says:
This does not solve the drug addition problem it increases it.
May 7, 9:03 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I really wish this site would IP block whoever is writing racist comments using my user name.
May 7, 9:05 am
Leah says:
I use to care, but there are 5 billion and counting too many people to sustain live on Earth. Maybe hang a poster saying as much, at the injection sites. That should sober them up.
May 7, 9:49 am
L. A. from Downtown says:
It's 2018,not 1967.
May 7, 10:01 am
Leah from Park Slope says:
Listen people, I know about addiction first hand. I, myself, am a chocoholic. I didn’t get over it by locking myself in chocolate factory! These people just need to work on their hobbies. Find something to fill their free time. I say this as an addict who has cured herself.
May 7, 1:03 pm
Leah from Park Slope says:
And Ira - what made you into such an evil angry man? Do you even know what love and kindness are? Because all you do is spread hate and ignorance.
May 7, 1:05 pm
Mustafa Khant from Atlantic Ave says:
^It's odd how people with the least amount of sense about a subject, are the most vocal.^
May 7, 1:39 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Mustafa, get back to us when your home gets robbed, or a junkie steals the air bags out of your car. The rest of us have been living with the carnage inflicted by drug addicts for decades, while others sit in their ivory towers and spew platitudes. Those of us impacted by junkies have had enough and are fighting back.
May 7, 1:46 pm
Leah from not from Park Slope says:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/12/chocolate-health-benefits_n_1383372.html
May 7, 3:20 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I welcome this to my stoop and my neighborhood.
May 7, 6:57 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I think Leah Mustafa are wrong.
May 7, 6:58 pm
James from Brownstone Brooklyn says:
" a controversial process akin to selecting homeless-shelter sites."
Really???
Being homeless is not illegal, HOUSING is not illegal.
Shooting up heroin IS
May 9, 7:22 am
Mark from Crown Heights says:
If drug addicts are intent on killing themselves, let them.
It's not as if they will be a great loss to the community.
Most probably, more of a relief.
May 9, 7:35 am

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