San Francisco

SF Leaders OK Privately Funded Overdose Prevention Sites

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Nonprofits wanting to operate drug overdose prevention sites in the city with private dollars are allowed to do so, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday.

Introduced by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Hillary Ronen, the legislation permits non-city run overdose prevention sites, also called wellness hubs, to operate while San Francisco waits for the federal government's decision on if it can back the programs with public funds.

Despite federal and state policies prohibiting overdose prevention sites, the city has still been in talks with organizations who expressed interest in opening sites with supervised drug consumption areas that could link residents to health and treatment resources.

Specifically, Tuesday's vote removes a 2020 permitting structure, which prevented any overdose prevention program to open until California allowed San Francisco to do so.

"Repealing this ordinance would eliminate a burdensome permitting structure to opening overdose prevention sites," said Ronen. "We need solutions to open-air drug use and chaotic conditions on the streets. Overdose Prevention Sites are a proven solution to these problems and save countless lives."

Breed said it was necessary to expedite the opening of consumption sites amid a fatal overdose crisis. She said the move was in compliance with the city's overdose prevention plan, which pledges to expand substance abuse treatment services and places wellness hubs as an essential resource for overdose prevention.

"We will continue to work with our non-profits partners who are trying to open overdose prevention sites, fully implement our health strategies to help those struggling with addiction in our streets, and work with law enforcement to close the open-air drug markets," said Breed.

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