City Council considers legislation that could block safe injection sites

Councilmember David Oh introduced a bill that would require approval from local businesses, residents and City Council before opening a safe injection site in Philadelphia.
JENNIFER LOGUE

City Council held a committee meeting on Monday where they are considering a bill that would make it impossible for a supervised injection site to open in Philadelphia.

The hearing comes within two weeks after Safehouse, a nonprofit organization, announced plans to open a safe injection site and then abruptly canceled those plans. The site was supposed to operate out of a location in South Philadelphia. However, as a result of multiple issues including public outcry, losing their lease and more, the safe injection site did not open.

Inquirer.com reports that advocates from each side, for and against, attended the hearing with signs, some of which read, “Stand up South Philly and take our streets back,” and “Dead people can’t recover.”

It was reported that Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley testified for Council’s Committee for Public Health and Human Services. Farley was met with boos and applause.

Farley is on the advisory committee for Safehouse. It was reported that the Kenney administration opposes the bill that is under consideration Monday because it would cause a lot of obstacles to open similar sites.

“These sites save lives, and we want to open these sites as quickly as possible, so we don’t lose lives unnecessarily,” Farley said, according to Inquirer.com.

Councilmember David Oh introduced the bill, which would require the approval of 90 percent of businesses and residents within a one-mile radius of the proposed site. City Council will also have to approve its opening.

It was reported that last week, City Council passed a resolution that condemned the Safehouse and the city for its rollout of the canceled plans. Oh also sponsored this resolution. The stealthy plan caught both officials and neighbors by surprise.

Although most councilmembers have made their opinions clear about not wanting Safehouse to open, other councilmembers have made it clear they support the site.

Councilmembers Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks voted against the resolution. Other Council members, such as Maria Quiñones Sánchez, think Oh’s proposal is moving too quickly and expressed doubts about the requirements. She also accused Farley of hypocrisy, according to Inquirer.com.

The hearing is expected to end with a committee vote on the advancement of the bill for the full Council for the final passage.

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