Nov. 30, 2021 – Mayor Bill de Blasio began championing safe injection sites in 2018, citing their use and success in European and Canadian cities. The decision to officially allow the sites to open comes during the mayor’s last few weeks in office and as he considers a run for governor. He said in a statement that the decision will show other cities that “after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible.”  The mayor also sent a letter to the providers promising “not to take enforcement action” against their operations. Four of the city’s five district attorneys — excluding only the Staten Island district attorney, Michael McMahon — support supervised drug sites.  Nationally, overdose deaths rose to more than 100,000 in the 12-month period that ended in April, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, up nearly 30 percent from the previous 12 months.

More than 2,000 people died of a drug overdose in New York City in 2020, the highest total since the city began keeping track of overdose deaths in 2000. During the first three months of 2021, there were close to 600 overdose deaths, according to preliminary data. New York also saw an increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.

The city provides funding to the two nonprofits that run the needle exchange programs — New York Harm Reduction Educators and Washington Heights Corner Project, which are merging to form OnPoint NYC.

“I know deep in my soul that we are doing the right thing,” said Sam Rivera, the executive director of OnPoint, adding, “The data doesn’t lie.”