Heroin Task Force recommends safe-consumption sites for drug addicts

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SEATTLE -- Taxpayers in Seattle could be asked to pay for a place where addicts would be allowed to use heroin.

A 32-member heroin task force is about to unveil a new plan to tackle the heroin epidemic that some call a crisis in our region.

The task force said addicts must have a safer place for people to use drugs rather than inside a public bathroom or a homeless camp.

“You have to meet people where they are,” said Skip Riley of Seattle who supported the plan. “They’re not going to stop so you have to make it as safe as possible for them.”

The heroin task force, formed in March by Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, recently voted in favor of supervised spaces where addicts can get clean syringes and anti-overdose medication in addition to addiction treatment services.

But safe-consumption sites aren’t new; the task force has been taking notes from existing facilities in Canada and Europe.

Plus, the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance organization is working on setting up their own safe-spaces for addicts.

“No one wants people to use drugs in alleys. Drug users don’t want to be using in the alleys, so let's bring them into a safe place where we can link them to treatment and link them to testing and link them to room care facilities,” said Shilo Murphy with the PHRA.

But not everyone is on board with the plan. Some Seattle residents told Q13 News the cost of housing is already expensive in Seattle, and using tax dollars to provide addicts a safe place to inject or smoke illegal narcotics won’t stop people from using.

Exactly where the safe-consumption sites will be located in King County is still up in the air. The task force is expected to unveil its recommendations to the city and county in September.