A safe injection site could cost the City of Seattle millions of dollars. Officials just need to know where that money will come from.
“It’s an expensive endeavor,” said Seattle Councilmember Lorena González at a committee meeting Thursday, March 8.
“It’s one that’s worth paying for,” she said. “But we do need to identify a revenue stream to be able to support this program.”
The Housing, Health, Energy, and Working Rights committee discussed how much the city will spend to create a safe injection site and where it should go. According to a feasibility study presented at the meeting, the costs of the site would be at least $3 million. That’s more than the $2 million Gonzalez attempted to provide the program during the last budget cycle.
The city is looking at many options, including a mobile site that would travel around the city, seven days a week, 10 hours a day.
“Suffering from an addiction is a 24-hour problem, not a 10 hour problem a day,” Gonzales said.
Safe injection sites
King County gathered a panel of experts on the opioid crisis through 2016 and 2017 — the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force. That work group developed a series of recommendations on what officials could to do combat the issue.
The King County Council approved those recommendations, which included the formation of two “Community Health Engagement Locations” — more commonly referred to as CHEL (pronounced “shell”), safe injection sites, or safe consumption sites. Studies around the globe have shown that safe injection sites considerably cut down on overdose deaths.
The City of Seattle and the region’s public health department will be responsible for finding a site location.
Seattle will get one site. King County will place another site outside Seattle. These would be the first sites of their kind in the U.S. to allow consumption of heroin and opioid while being monitored by health officials.
Some cities in King County have begun to ban safe injection sites ahead of any county action. Cities include: Bellevue; Kirkland; Renton; Kent; Federal Way; and Auburn.