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Wednesday July 6th 2022

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Neighbors and Harm Reduction Groups Explore Overdose Prevention Site in Phillips

By GRACIE HALLBERG-CAIN, LEX HORAN, and KOR PACE As summer settles in, more neighbors are out and about in the neighborhood - gardening, teaching kids to ride bikes, walking dogs. Along with the relief of the warm weather, it’s also a time when some of the issues that we have in the Phillips neighborhood become more visible. Syringes are uncovered when the snow melts. Sometimes, we see folks using drugs in public areas – situations that are often unsafe for the people using drugs, as well as those around them. This year, a group of neighbors has been exploring an approach that we haven’t tried before: an overdose prevention site (OPS). Overdose prevention sites are proven to save lives and reduce syringe litter, and have not been shown to increase drug use in the surrounding neighborhood.  These issues in Phillips are part of a bigger picture. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, overdose deaths rose by 30% between 2019 and 2020 and continue to rise. In 2019, Black Minnesotans were twice as likely to die from a drug overdose as white Minnesotans and Native Minnesotans were seven times as likely to die of a drug overdose as white Minnesotans. We need solutions that center racial and health equity. Overdose prevention sites are part of a broader approach called harm reduction, which is a set of proven strategies for addressing the negative impacts of drug use. OPS are spaces where people bring their pre-obtained drugs and consume them in the presence of trained staff who monitor for overdose. Two of these sites were opened in New York City in November 2021, and they have existed outside of the US for decades. There has never been an overdose death reported at any OPS, and people who use these sites are also shown to seek additional healthcare and drug treatment at a higher rate.  From Kor and Gracie: As outreach workers with Southside Harm Reduction Services, we spend a lot of time in East Phillips. Our organization provides [...]

East Phillips Needs Harm Reduction Solutions for the Drug Problem

East Phillips Needs Harm Reduction Solutions for the Drug Problem

By Stephen Gregg In the eight years I’ve owned my home near 26th St and Bloomington Ave, I have been stuck by a discarded syringe, seen multiple overdoses, two deaths, and countless ambulances and police vehicles. I have watched in horror as entwined problems increase: the number of people experiencing homelessness, open air drug use, and crime. When approaching neighborhood issues, I try to practice empathy. From the beginning I’ve wanted to be involved in the work to find solutions, attending countless neighborhood meetings of all sorts. The problems here are deep-rooted and complex. I’m not a social worker–actually I’m an agricultural plant scientist. So I also comb research for solutions to problems. And this search has pointed me strongly towards harm reduction practices and services, practices endorsed by the CDC. Harm reduction has the potential to reduce short term harms while creating space for long lasting change. The city is already funding harm reduction services, such as the work of Southside Harm Reduction, who do street outreach and provide needle exchange. According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition website, harm reduction principles are a set of practical strategies to reduce the consequences of drug use, based on a belief in rights for people who use drugs. Some of these include: acknowledging the realities of intersectional causes of drug use; ensuring that people who use drugs have a voice in the creation of solutions; NOT minimizing or ignoring the real harms and dangers caused by illicit drug use; and creating non-coercive and non-judgmental services. At this point, I can hear countless neighbors in meetings saying, “We don’t want to enable drug users.” And without much support from the city, the primary tactic that comes up is for neighbors to move people experiencing homelessness off a given block, inevitably resulting in them moving to another nearby. This is all neighbors feel they can do, but it makes the [...]

East Phillips Needs Harm Reduction Solutions for the Drug Problem

East Phillips Needs Harm Reduction Solutions for the Drug Problem

By Stephen Gregg Photos courtesy of PHS Community Services Society In the eight years I’ve owned my home near 26th St and Bloomington Ave, I have been stuck by a discarded syringe, seen multiple overdoses, two deaths, and countless ambulances and police vehicles. I have watched in horror as entwined problems increase: the number of people experiencing homelessness, open air drug use, and crime. When approaching neighborhood issues, I try to practice empathy. From the beginning I’ve wanted to be involved in the work to find solutions, attending countless neighborhood meetings of all sorts. The problems here are deep-rooted  and complex. I’m not a social worker–actually I’m an agricultural plant scientist. So I also comb research for solutions to problems. And this search has pointed me strongly towards harm reduction practices and services, practices endorsed by the CDC. Harm reduction has the potential to reduce short term harms while creating space for long lasting change. The city is already funding harm reduction services, such as the work of Southside Harm Reduction, who do street outreach and provide needle exchange. According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition website, harm reduction principles are a set of practical strategies to reduce the consequences of drug use, based on a belief in rights for people who use drugs. Some of these include: acknowledging the realities of intersectional causes of drug use; ensuring that people who use drugs have a voice in the creation of solutions; NOT minimizing or ignoring the real harms and dangers caused by illicit drug use; and creating non-coercive and non-judgmental services. At this point, I can hear countless neighbors in meetings saying, “We don’t want to enable drug users.” And without much support from the city, the primary tactic that comes up is for neighbors to move people experiencing homelessness off a given block, inevitably resulting in them moving to another nearby. [...]

Red Lake and NACC Set to Open New Health Care Center

Red Lake and NACC Set to Open New Health Care Center

Mino Bimaadiziwin Wellness Clinic offers a much-needed entry-point to healthcare By TINA MONJE Mino Bimaadiziwin, the new RedLake Nation apartment building. In September of 2020, Red Lake Nation and their affordable housing nonprofit partner, CommonBond Communities, began taking applications for their new Native-centered apartment building, Mino Bimaadiziwin. Today, most of the units are occupied, and they hope to have the building full by late August.  In partnership with Native American Community Clinic (NACC), Red Lake Nation is also gearing up to open the Mino Bimaadiziwin Wellness Center, an onsite health clinic.  Dr. Laurelle Myhra, PhD, LMFT, is an enrolled member of Red Lake Nation, and the new clinic”™s director. According to Myhra, this project, arguably the first of its kind in the nation, has been made possible by the innovative Indigenous leaders who are seated at the planning table. The culmination of “a lot of indigenous people carrying indigenous knowledge and ancestry,” she says, has resulted in this new, one-of-a-kind avenue, through which residents may access housing and healthcare.  This project comes after years of increasing houselessness within the community, and years of community organizing and development among Minnesota tribal leaders, Indigenous outreach workers, and community members at large. Construction began in the fall of 2019, and moved rapidly through the winter, on a site familiar to the population for whom this development is built to serve. At this site, in December of 2018, Simpson Housing opened the Navigation Center. By the guidance of local Native leadership groups, including Red Lake Nation, American Indian Community Development Center (AICDC) and Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID), this temporary shelter was built in response to the Franklin/Hiawatha encampment, known as the Wall of Forgotten Natives, which quickly grew through the spring and summer of [...]

We Are Not Trash, Stop Sweeping Us!

We Are Not Trash, Stop Sweeping Us!

By SOUTHSIDE HARM REDUCTION SERVICES This last month the Minneapolis Police evicted another encampment of people experiencing houselessness in East Phillips. This is the third time in the past few months that this group has been moved. This eviction was especially violent. About 40 police arrived to forcibly evict roughly 30 residents with no place for residents to move. The police barricaded the area surrounding the camp and forced almost all the community outreach workers out of the camp, searching for people with active warrants and telling residents they had 5 minutes to pack everything and leave. During this eviction, a resident of the encampment experienced an overdose. The police (all of whom are supposed to be carrying naloxone) did not respond. Instead, they continued to stand around and force people to leave the encampment. Fortunately, a fellow resident responded to the emergency by administering naloxone, and the person experiencing the overdose survived, exclusively because of this community response.  These evictions are violent, and they cause immediate and long-term health crises. They prevent people from making progress in finding housing and in achieving health goals. They cause people to lose their tents, identification documents, personal belongings, medication, harm reduction supplies, and naloxone. They also cause disruption of important relationships with friends and family, as well as healthcare and social service providers. These connections are as valuable to people”™s health as physical supplies. As one resident put it, “Every time we are evicted, we start back at square 1, we could be at square 450 and then immediately back to square 1.”  Encampment evictions are happening in the midst of multiple outbreaks, including HIV, Hep A, and alongside record high numbers of overdose deaths. These evictions and health crises disproportionately affect Indigenous people and people of color, and we cannot [...]

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