PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney, representatives of Safehouse, and community members met on Monday to discuss challenges stemming from opening an overdose prevention site in Philadelphia. As a result, Mayor Kenney issued the following statement:
“With over an estimated 1,100 overdose deaths last year, it is clear that the opioid crisis still grips Philadelphia. People die every day, and we believe that Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) can save lives and should be located in the heart of the crisis.
“However, 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.
“While the City tackles matters of public safety, I urge Safehouse to look at other prospective sites. Over the next few months, the City pledges to work closely with community members so they understand why establishing an OPS is important — the data says that it will save lives, reduce the transmission of infectious disease, and help connect individuals suffering with substance use disorder to treatment and other services. It will also reduce the litter associated with open-air drug use.
“Kensington is the epicenter of the opioid crisis, but we know that addiction is a citywide problem. We cannot open one OPS in Kensington and expect it to address this issue at scale. Multiple sites are needed and should be explored by Safehouse or other OPS operators.
“As we’ve learned from the Philadelphia Resilience Project, we must balance the needs of those suffering from addiction with the needs of residents whose neighborhoods have been deeply impacted by this epidemic. The City is committed to partnering with the community to address their concerns and to engage in an open and honest dialogue on OPS and any other issues they face.
“In order for Philadelphia’s OPS to be a national model for harm reduction, we must ensure that it is implemented respectfully and in partnership with diverse stakeholders every step of the way. We are committed to that work.”