Mayor Durkan's proposed budget sets aside $1.3 million for legal injection site
SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released Monday's proposed budget and the amount of money set aside for a legal injection site for drug users is raising some serious eyebrows.
The mayor says her proposed budget will set aside $1.3 million dollars for the pilot program.
Shilo Jama with the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance says the syringe exchange in the University District helps drug users stay safe. But, he's concerned about all the opioid overdoses in Seattle.
That's why he also wants a legal injection site to open in the city.
“It is part of the answer," Jama said. "I don't think there's a magic bullet here. I think we need to have treatment on demand...you need to have safe consumption rooms. You need to have Narcan distribution."
Despite push back from the justice department that says it would take swift and aggressive action to stop the sites, Mayor Jenny Durkan says her administration will push forward.
The proposed plan -- a site in the City of Seattle for drug users to inject illegal drugs. Health care workers would be on hand to revive people if they overdose. Similar injection sites are up and running in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The mayor's budget sets aside more than a million dollars for the pilot project.
“You'll see in the budget that we will continue to work for safe injection sites," Mayor Durkan said. "We want this to be part of a holistic system of treatment."
“Injection sites are not the answer,” said Jennifer Aspelund with Neighborhood Safety Alliance.
Aspelund strongly opposes a legal injection site in Seattle.
“It's not safe when you are allowing someone to inject a toxic substance into their body," she said. "Day after day, after day and wait for them to decide when they are ready for treatment and I've always said, ‘at what point are they going to be able to make that rational decision.'"
For Aspelund , the issue is personal.
“My brother started shooting up when he was 13-years-old, she said. "He didn't die from an overdose. He died from the long-term use of his drugs in his late 50s."
She says injection sites will do more harm than good.
“It's not OK.," she added. "You're putting society at risk by endorsing that kind of behavior."
Seattle City Council will begin hearings on the budget proposal in October. Final votes to adopt the budget are scheduled for mid-November.