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'People Afraid To Come Out Of Their Homes': Kensington Residents Weigh-in On Public Safety Plan For Safe Injection Site

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia is weighing-in on a new public safety plan. It's in response to the debate over Safehouse -- the Mayor Jim Kenney-backed plan to open the nation's first supervised safe injection site.

City officials say establishing an overdose prevention center is critical to their plan to stem the tide of overdose deaths plaguing the city and released a new safety plan to address it.

The opioid crisis is evident on the streets of Kensington with used syringes everywhere and people suffering from addiction wandering.

"Whatever it takes to get them somewhere safe, somewhere healed, somewhere where we don't have to worry about needles being on the ground while our babies are outside playing, I'm all for it," Pam Martinez said.

The nonprofit Safehouse is working with the city to open the country's first overdose prevention site where users will be overseen by a medical team and connected to treatment, housing and other services.

"It's both about harm reduction that we keep folks alive and also about helping people with services to help them beat their addiction in the long term," City of Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Longtime Kensington resident Gilberto Gonzalez believes there is a larger problem at stake.

"There are people afraid to come out of their homes, afraid to go to the park. If you're not going to address any of that, how can you in good faith put an overdose site in a community that needs so much more?" Gonzalez questioned.

The Department of Justice's lawsuit to stop the installation of this site is still working its way through federal court, so, for now, there is no launch date or location selected for the proposed Safehouse.

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