Is New York Ready to Legalize Supervised Injection Sites?

Behind Sam Rivera’s desk in his office at the Harlem OnPoint supervised injection and harm reduction center is a sign for an early syringe exchange program. “Clean Needles Save Lives: Drug Users Doing It For Ourselves, 1991,” the metal sign reads, with a photo and description of the response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. It’s not just a bit of historical memorabilia – Rivera was there. “My early work in harm reduction was literally going into a shooting gallery and cleaning syringes in a bucket so people wouldn’t get HIV,” Rivera told City & State, referencing communal spaces that drug users would get high in. “And that’s fighting, we had to fight for everything. No one supported harm reduction.”

A lot has changed since then. Today, Rivera heads OnPoint NYC, the largest provider of harm reduction services for drug users in New York City – and the operator of the nation’s first two supervised injection sites. The sites are places where drug users can bring pre-obtained drugs into a safe and sterile setting to shoot up under the supervision of trained professionals who can intervene in the case of an overdose. OnPoint’s two locations are in Manhattan – one in East Harlem and a second in Washington Heights. They opened with the blessing of the city government in November 2021 to national attention. They’re a pilot program of sorts, so both supporters and detractors are keeping a close eye on the outcomes.

Read more at City & State NY

Our East Harlem location will be closing early at 8:30pm on Wed 5/1 and Fri 5/3. Our Washington Heights location will be open on our regular schedule.

No One Has To Die of An Overdose.

Through our compassionate and effective approach, we’ve saved over 1,000 lives. With your support, we can save many more.