The Tenderloin Community Benefit District strongly supports the concept of supervised consumption services in the Tenderloin.
My Thoughts…Steve Gibson Executive Director
After several presentations and much discussion, the TLCBD board agreed to strongly support the development of Supervised Consumption Services in the Tenderloin. We took this position for a number of reasons. The concept of supervised consumption services, also known as safe injection sites, began in the Tenderloin. Over three years ago, Tenderloin stakeholders began searching for programs that could have a positive effect on that portion of our community that used injectable drugs. It is a Tenderloin solution to a Tenderloin problem.
The TLCBD’s Invest Tenderloin campaign, which began in February, is focused on Improving Lives for those in the Tenderloin neighborhood. One of the ways in which we will measure the impact of this campaign is by the daily experience of walking in the Tenderloin. Each day as we walk in the Tenderloin we observe individuals shooting up in plain sight. If only 10% of those injecting in public, choose to use a supervised consumption service site it will have a substantial and positive effect on the daily walk in the Tenderloin.
But, just improving the daily walk is not the primary reason for the TLCBD’s support of these sites. The primary reason is Harm Reduction for both the users and observers! Harm reduction is not limited to just the drug users. The other major population suffering from observing open drug use is the 3000 children that live in the Tenderloin. Harm reduction for the drug user by participating in a supervised consumption service is obvious. No overdose deaths and an opportunity to connect with services for those ready to change their lives.
Harm reduction for the children is less obvious. Each day as our children walk to and from school and try to live a normal childhood they observe users injecting. According to Pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, this repeated observation creates stress that could lead to a condition known as Toxic Stress. Toxic stress in children leads to changes in the structure and function of children’s developing brains which has a negative effect on behavior and health. Children who experience toxic stress are twice as likely to have asthma, auto immune disorder, heart disease and cancer. Their lives are shortened by decades.
As we adults worry about the location, size, operating rules and effects to our businesses and property from supervised consumption sites, please worry about the children and those addicted to drugs first.