Seattle safe consumption study answers how big and how much — but not where

Safe consumption advocates took their message to I-5 last month

The easiest answers to the hardest questions surrounding the creation of a safe consumption site in Seattle will be on the table as a City Council committee hears updates on how much space is needed and how much it will cost to acquire or lease a property for the facility hoped to help stem the tide of opiate-related overdoses.

Where to locate it? That’s not on the board — yet.

Teresa Mosqueda’s Housing, Health, Energy, and Workers’ Rights Committee is slated for a Thursday morning briefing on the Safe Consumption Site Feasibility Study at the center of $1.3 million in city funding to help get a site running in Seattle.

Officials now know how much space and what features the facility will need (PDF) — “2,000 square feet, with space for approximately 10 consumption stations, offices for the facility manager, clinical providers and social workers, needle exchange, reception, waiting rooms, restrooms storage and utility space.”

Much of Thursday’s discussion will be around how much it would cost to establish that space in Seattle’s booming real estate market under various scenarios:

With $1.3 million earmarked from Seattle to help start the facility, the project faces a significant funding gap under the scenarios to be presented Thursday. SCC Insight reports that Public Health of Seattle-King County will share responsibility for site selection with the city — and will also have to pony up a lot of funding to help close the budget gap. Included in the annual costs for each proposal is $300,000 in “neighborhood mitigation” including “emphasis patrols, garbage sweeps and other ancillary costs.”

Safe consumption sites are facilities where people addicted to drugs can consume substances indoors with trained medical staff on hand to prevent fatal overdoses, reduce the spread of disease from dirty needles, and connect addicts to drug treatment services.

The Seattle site is planned to provide “hygienic space and sterile supplies,” overdose treatment and prevention, as well as “syringe exchange services” and “post-consumption observation space.” Capitol Hill has been discussed as a possible home for a Seattle site and organizations including the Capitol Hill Community Council have voiced support for the facilities.

You can review the presentation from Thursday’s committee meeting here (PDF).


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5 thoughts on “Seattle safe consumption study answers how big and how much — but not where

  1. What a weak presentation. The only thing of interest is the eye-popping cost to operate it, and it doesn’t even include the millions it will cost the city in lawsuits. People will argue that it will reduce emergency response costs, but that doesn’t take into account the additional costs associated with the ever growing pool of addicts that will move to or be dropped off in Seattle from the rest of King County and other cities. What a disaster this would be for Capitol Hill if it gets dumped in one of our business districts. I suspect they are scheming to put it on Broadway between Pike and Pine. The drug dealers will have quite a turf war over this prime fishing hole. Crime and garbage will likely be even worse than around the safe consumption site in East Hastings Vancouver because Seattle doesn’t have the political will to enforce the law and mitigate the impacts. Not only is it legal to camp anywhere you please in Seattle, but apparently it is legal to shoplift and steal bikes too if you a homeless junkie that got kicked out of somewhere else and ended on the streets of Seattle (I am referring to the 1500 cases that were recently thrown out of court). Seattle has a big heart, but we need some leaders with common sense too.

  2. The Seattle site is planned to provide “hygienic space and sterile supplies,” overdose treatment and prevention, as well as “syringe exchange services” and “post-consumption observation space.”

    OK, fine, but there is no mention of including effective case-management staff to get addicts into treatment and end their cycle of drug abuse. This would add to the expense, but it is absolutely critical if this is to be a site which is something more than just enabling junkies to continue to shoot up.

    • There is a well funded campaign to sell this bag of goods to the Seattle public. Is it taxpayer funded or money passed through to an NGO that will get millions a year to operate it? I would like to see a comprehensive cost benefit analysis on the city and neighborhood scale for such a site that takes into account the magnet effect of such a facility (more junkies, more homeless camps nearby, more drug dealers, more shoplifting) and how it may effect the bottom line of local businesses (lost business, increased security services, increased cleaning services, higher employee turnover, more goods lost due to theft) in the vicinity of the site. I suspect you could make a decent economic case on a county scale, but for the city, it would not be so good and for the neighborhood where it is sited it will be a huge loss. Seattle and Capitol Hill always seem to take on regional and national problems at a great cost both financially and to livability. It is well meaning and politically advantageous but foolhearty.

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