Community values, community priorities

Updates from GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice

An important step forward for public health
On June 23, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation authored by Mayor London Breed and District Six Supervisor Matt Haney—and supported by a broad coalition of service providers, including GLIDE—which establishes a permitting program for health providers to open Overdose Prevention Programs (OPP). Now it’s up to the state legislature to pass AB 362 (Eggman), and Governor Gavin Newsom to sign it into law, so that California can begin adopting this proven health intervention.

Such programs have operated for years with great success around the world. In August 2018, GLIDE hosted a full-scale demonstration model of an OPP in collaboration with the Safer Inside Coalition. Evidence-based, cost-effective and, most importantly, humane and lifesaving, OPPs benefit both individuals and communities by reducing the harms associated with public and chronic drug use disorders. Moreover, a 2016 study found that every dollar spent in San Francisco on an OPP would generate $2.33 in savings, for a total annual net savings of $3.5 million for a single 13-booth facility. Given the current budget shortfalls in San Francisco, this makes more sense than ever. As Sup. Haney wrote on Twitter in announcing the passing of the legislation, “Over 300 people died of drug overdose in our city last year, a number that has skyrocketed in recent years. Overdose prevention sites will get drug use off our streets and sidewalks, connect people into treatment and recovery, and save lives. All the evidence and research show that.

Prioritizing people power 
Efforts to prioritize community care, over expansion of policing, in response to the many public health harms arising from poverty and inequality, go back many years now. But the recent and historic rise of a new broad-based racial justice movement has created an unprecedented opportunity to finally create a more just, healthy, equitable system for all by addressing systemic bias and violence in policing, and indeed across our society. That means, among other things, removing the police as first responders to nonviolent public health crises and supporting the professionals and services who are better equipped to respond without violence and with ameliorative impact.

Here in San Francisco, GLIDE is working with a coalition of organizations to support efforts, initially put forward by Mayor Breed and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, to prioritize community care in the City budget, which is the only just and constructive way of addressing the public harms brought on by the overlapping crises of systemic poverty and racism.

Learn more about the Center for Social Justice