There’s still a lot left to be sorted before the City of Seattle opens its first safe consumption space for people suffering from drug addiction, and there will be several options to consider when moving forward this week.
The Seattle Human Services Department on Thursday will provide the city council’s Housing, Health, Energy and Worker’s Rights Committee with a presentation regarding how it could proceed with a safe consumption space, also know as community health engagement locations (CHELs).
CHELs provide a hygienic and monitored environment where people can use drugs safely and have access to social and health services, including pathways to recovery when they’re ready.
The City of Seattle is planning to open a safe consumption space (SCS) that would be funded and operated in conjunction with Public Health - Seattle & King County.
There is $1.3 million in funding to open a safe consumption space in the city’s 2018 budget, but that won’t be enough, according to HSD.
The human services department estimates a $600,000 one-time cost to lease an existing site for a safe consumption space, with an annual cost of $4 million in 2019, while purchasing a building is estimated to cost $5 million to start, and then $3.28 million in 2019. That $3.28 million annual cost stays the same when considering opening a safe consumption space in an existing city or county owned building, or using portable buildings on an empty lot the city would purchase, according to HSD.
There is also an option to open a mobile facility in a right-of-way, and house services in a nearby building, which would have a $350,000 one-time cost, and a $3.82 million annual cost in 2019.
These estimates assume a standalone facility would need to be 2,000 square feet, and provide space for 10 consumption stations, staff offices, a needle exchange, restrooms, a reception area and waiting room. Operating the safe consumption space is also estimated to require 14 full-time staffers.
If the City of Seattle were to opt for a mobile facility, there would need to be 1,500 square feet of space leased in another building for additional services, according to HSD.
King County is exploring where it may site another CHEL, somewhere outside Seattle.
Both governments are acting in response to recommendations published in a 101-page report by the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force in September 2016, which the King County Board of Health approved in January 2017.
"None of the money appropriated in the 2018 budget for the Human Services Department (HSD) may be spent for the establishment of a Safe Consumption Site until HSD has conducted an assessment of the project and filed a report of the assessment with the City Clerk,” according to a budget proviso tied to the $1.3 million appropriation. “The assessment 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."
Pending feedback from the health committee on Thursday, HSD will begin researching potential properties for a safe consumption space and start the community engagement process in partnership with Public Health.
The Housing, Health, Energy and Worker’s Rights Committee meets 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 8, inside council chambers at city hall, 600 Fourth Ave.
The Yes to SCS coalition has been hosting volunteer nights regularly in its effort to promote safe consumption spaces. In partnership with the Capitol Hill Community Council, which is advocating for siting an SCS in their neighborhood, a Yes to SCS volunteer night will take place 5-8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at 12th Avenue Arts, 1620 12th Ave.
Community Health Engagement Locations Presentation by branax2000 on Scribd