Who, where, how much? What we’ll learn from Seattle safe consumption site ‘feasibility study’

With $1.3 million allocated in the 2018 budget for studying and building a safe consumption site in Seattle, staff at city and county agencies are gearing up to draft the “feasibility study,” a report that will address location and costs for the site, who will pay for it, and how it will be run.

As noted in the $1.3 million budget amendment sponsored by Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson (District 4–Wallingford, University District), the report “must include a full cost estimate and a location for siting that HSD deems viable, and a scope and timeline of necessary capital improvements to create the Safe Consumption Site.”

Additionally, the budget amendment stated that the facility will provide, among other things: “supplies and space for consuming illicit drugs via injection, smoking or sublimation, and nasal inhalation”, overdose treatment (e.g. Naloxone), syringe exchange services, basic medical treatment, wraparound social services and case management, and sexual health supplies. Continue reading

Seattle plans $1.3M safe consumption space feasibility study in 2018

An Insite “supervised injection site” in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

Capitol Hill residents and businesses have been looking for new solutions to the opiate addiction crisis. You can only call 911 so many times to take care of somebody overdosing and you can only pick up so many needles before you look for better ways to help. In 2018, Seattle plans to spend the money to figure out how to put one new solution into place.

Tucked into the 2018 budget passed last week before the Thanksgiving holiday are funds allocated for “a feasibility study for siting a safe consumption site in Seattle.” Capitol Hill is considered by some to be a prime area to host the facility.

It’s officially called a Supervised Consumption Space (SCS), a public health facility where people who are living with substance disorders can use drugs in a medically supervised environment while gaining access to treatment and other services. Services often include caseworkers, mental health counselors and referrals. Seattle would be the first in the U.S. to have an SCS.

A mother with a strong Capitol Hill connection supports the effort.  Continue reading

A new item for your Capitol Hill first aid kit — overdose antidote

As Seattle officials spar over how to pay for safe consumption sites and where to put them, you might consider a new tool to add to your Capitol Hill safety and first aid kit. In late October, drugstore chain Walgreens announced it would begin stocking naloxone in its stores across the country. CHS bought a kit to find out what’s inside — and, hopefully, be ready to help.

Sold under the Narcan brand, the nasal spray “antidote” can reverse the effects of opioid including heroin and prescription painkillers. For $82, the kit we purchased comes with a syringe and an attachment for the nasal spray. Each kit is good for two applications. You’ll find directions inside and online training videos like this one, below, from Kelley-Ross Pharmacies, which also stocks the kits. Meanwhile, free kits are available via King County Health and organizations like The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance.

Nasal naloxone kits are now standard issue for Seattle bike cops after a pilot program proved their efficacy.

Officials continue to work toward opening safe consumption sites in King County and Seattle. Opioid and heroin abuse, meanwhile, remains a massive public safety issue for the city.

Seattle sorting out how to pay for expansion of drug diversion program beyond Capitol Hill

Transitioning the emphasis from arrest to treatment and services when it comes to addiction, mental illness, and homelessness is slowly changing policing and the city’s connections to its streets in downtown and parts of Capitol Hill. The hopes to expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion to the rest of the East Precinct now hinges on the process underway at City Hall to shape Seattle’s 2018 budget.

Tracy Gillespie, who handles LEAD’s East Precinct referrals, and LEAD’s operations advisor Najja Morris said the program’s biggest hurdle is funding, year after year. The program needs more case managers. Their hope is to expand throughout Seattle by 2019, which Morris said would require around $4 million. Right now, LEAD is lined up for $1 million out of the city budget.

The program has been working in Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct — Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Little Saigon — since last year. But it’s been Capitol Hill centric because the program rolled out to SPD’s bicycle officers, who focus on the Hill, and not patrol officers in cars. Now, LEAD is working toward CD and Saigon expansion.

“It’s been really great to see a different demographic come into the program,” said Gillespie. “They tend to be younger, but a lot of them have aged out of the teen and young adult services, so they’re in between being a young person and being an adult.”

But there is uncertainty about how much funding will be available for the initiative in coming years. Continue reading

‘Sharps’ program collecting 2,000+ old needles a month across Seattle

Left Behind

It’s a tragedy that heroin addiction destroys so many lives in Seattle. Discarded needles add another sad layer to the problem. A push from Seattle Public Utilities started in February 2016 can’t help with the addiction but officials say it is helping make streets safer by collecting some 2,000 used needles a month:

In its first 15 months of operation, Seattle Public Utility’s pioneering Sharps Collection Pilot Program has collected and safely disposed of 32,012 hypodermic syringes, improving both the safety and cleanliness of the city’s neighborhoods. Since February, people disposed of 26,647 syringes in nine SPU sharps disposal boxes around Seattle. (See attached map.) Another 5,365 needles have been removed from public property since the program began, in August 2016, in response to 1,113 complaints. Complaints were filed online, with the City’s Find It, Fix It app, or phoned in to (206) 684-7587.

Officials say the one-of-a-kind Seattle program is part of a group of test initiatives related to clean streets and safety. Continue reading

‘Infancy’ — Officials still gathering data to determine where safe consumption sites can be located

An Insite "supervised injection site" in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

An Insite “supervised injection site” in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

At the end of January, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced they were moving forward with all of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommendations to battle the heroin epidemic at a local level, including launching two safe consumption sites.

Officials are currently gathering data and information and meeting with communities to determine where the two sites, one slated for Seattle and one for greater King County, should be located.

Brad Finegood, assistant division director at King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, told CHS the process is in its “infancy.”

“There are so many things to undertake in an effort like this where A) there’s none in the U.S. and B) there’s so many community groups to discuss it with,” Finegood said. Continue reading

Police say no signs of foul play after body found in Colonnade Park

Police say there were no signs of foul play after a body was found in the Colonnade Park beneath I-5 on the slope between Capitol Hill and Eastlake Wednesday morning.

According to the Seattle Police Department, a death investigation was conducted after the body was found next to the park’s off-leash dog area but there was no immediate evidence of a crime.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate the cause of death and identification of the person found.

The area is well known for campers and drug use and police are often called to the park.

Last week, Seattle’s new homeless Navigation Team begins a clean-up effort with a sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill and around the area of the park.

Mayor Ed Murray announced during his State of the City speech earlier this week a proposal for a new $55 million levy to help the city pay for its homelessness services. The city’s emergency operations center has also been opened to help direct resources needed to remove camps and assist homeless people with finding shelter.

King County officials and task force members, meanwhile, are working with the community to identify potential locations — one in Seattle, and one outside the city — for new safe consumption sites to stem the tide of overdoses that would give drug users a place to use that is supervised and can provide resources like clean needles.

Why you should stop by the new drug drop box on Broadway

It comes nowhere close to the costs of addiction but big drug companies are funding a small program in King County to put “secure medicine return” boxes in locations where it easier for residents to get rid of unwanted pharmaceuticals.

Officials were on hand last week at the Broadway Market QFC to announce the program and show off one of the new drop box locations.

“Working on secure medicine return, I’ve truly seen the community spirit here in King County. These drop boxes are run by volunteers. All of the locations have volunteered to have drop boxes. And the program is supported and operated by drug producers whose medications are sold in King County,” King County Council member Joe McDermott said Thursday morning with the soft rock of the QFC sound system and beeps from the nearby checkouts in the background. “I look forward to the success of this producer supported program.”

A map of medicine return boxes around the county is below. You can also find drop sites at the Country Doctor clinic on 19th Ave E and at the Capitol Hill Group Health campus.

Continue reading

Seattle homeless Navigation Team begins clean-up with sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

There have been clean-ups of the area beneath Interstate 5 between Capitol Hill and Eastlake before. But officials hope this week’s sweeps can be part of a longer term change of what an East Precinct officer once described as a “no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases.”

In the first official deployment of the city’s new Navigation Team including outreach workers and police, the areas along and under I-5 popular with campers in the city’s core are being cleared out.

Here is what KOMO saw during the start of the clean-up in a half-mile stretch near the Colonnade Park between lower Capitol Hill and Eastlake:

Police and safety vest clad workers started pulling apart a bunker underneath I-5 early Tuesday. Mixed in with the bottles filled with urine were piles of blankets, rats and a smattering of personal belongings. Continue reading

Council pushes back on mayor’s budget cuts to drug arrest diversion, spending on homeless plan

Budget season is in full swing at City Hall and City Council members have begun their dive in what will likely be this year’s most contentious topic: homeless services. On Wednesday, the City Council discussed amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget for the Human Services Department.

The $157 million budget represents a 10.3% increase over the department’s 2016 spending with $56 million in homelessness-related programs moved under a new Division of Homeless Strategy and Investment. Within that budget is $476,000 for four full-time employees to get the department rolling on implementing the mayor’s recently unveiled homelessness response plan Pathway’s Home.

That was the first bump in the road at City Council. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant said she opposed expenditure as the council has not fully approved Murray’s plan and said the funds should be spent on services directly. “I find this too rushed,” she said. Continue reading