Needle access program ends in Chico

A settlement between the North Valley Harm Reduction Coalition and 20+ plaintiffs results in end of sterile needs sharing program

Posted: Aug 19, 2020 11:03 PM

CHICO, Calif. -- The city of Chico will no longer have the needle access program offered by the North Valley Harm Reduction Coalition.

It's been a hot topic issue from the beginning.

"The thing about needles is that I'd rather have somebody get a clean needle than a dirty needle because at the same time that person goes touching things," said Carlos Estrada who frequents Chico.

He added, "There's so much ways things could be spread. It's turning an eye to the problem and not finding a solution."

"We were already having too many troubles in that area anyway andI just felt like it added more troubles. We didn't have a good plan in place. It should've never been implemented so I'm glad it was ended," said downtown Chico business owner Karen Martin.

The NVHRC's program was intended to limit the spread of diseases among injection drug users.

Something Core Collective Member Marin Hambley feels users should rightfully have.

"People who use drugs deserve health, dignity, respect, and opportunity to take care of themselves and that's where we rose out of," said Hambley.

But a lawsuit between the coalition and more than 20 plaintiffs resulted in a settlement which end the program.

"What that means is the people who need services the most are going to be shunned, shamed, attacked until we bring resources and care. Problems don’t go away by handcuffing them. Problems don’t go away by ignoring them or shaming," said Hambley.

NVHRC can revive the program by reapplying to the California Public Health Department and having the state conduct an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

While this service may have ended, NVHRC has a lot to offer.

"We're not going anywhere. Syringes are one part of our program, and it's a huge hit to the safety of our community that we're no longer able to provide that, but we are so much more than that," said Hambley

An agreement in the settlement mandates NVHRC minimum of three detailed sweeps lasting two hours each.

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