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Safe Injection Site Discussion Remains Hot Topic After Safehouse Backs Off Opening Facility In South Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The discussion over safe injection sites continues across the city after Safehouse intended to open a facility at Constitution Health Plaza in South Philly. The group has since scrapped plans after Constitution Health Plaza officials canceled plans to host the site after community backlash.

While a safe injection site location is on hold for now, community groups say they will continue to push to make sure one doesn't open anywhere in the city.

Fifteen groups, including the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, have filed a legal brief urging the federal government to keep a safe injection site out of Philly

"When I come in here, I want to feel safe. And if I would have to come in here to go to my doctor's appointment, I wouldn't feel safe," South Philadelphia resident Maureen Fratantoni said.

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Concerns over personal security and outcry over a failed attempt to open a safe injection site in South Philly continued on Saturday.

Groups rallied outside of Constitution Health Plaza to voice their opposition to the facility.

"There's two day cares around here. Imagine taking your children to a day care and seeing these people on the steps with needles and everything in their arms. It's terrible," resident Patricia Cosenza said.

Despite the outcry, advocates say safe injection sites would save lives.

City data shows more than a 1,000 people in Philly die each year from overdoses.

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Brittney Salerno says people who use safe injection sites have access to treatment options, clean tools to prevent the spread of disease and counseling.

"Dead people cannot recover. We need to meet people where they are," Salerno said. "They're not getting services from a curb."

Salerno says one person dies each week in South Philly from drug overdoses.

Meanwhile, in the epicenter of the opioid epidemic, Rev. Buddy Osborn -- the founder of Rock Ministries in Kensington -- says these sites would go against their mission. Osborn's church that uses boxing to teach the gospel is on Kensington Avenue.

Similar to the people in South Philly, Osborn says he's worried about what kids would see.

"We're planting seeds of hope that they don't have to go out and boot a needle in their arm or their neck," Osborn said. "But what they see is not right."

The group Stand Up South Philly says they will be following up with another rally on Sunday opposing any safe injection site anywhere in Philadephia.

The rally will be held at 3 p.m. on the corner of Broad and McKean Streets.

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