2018 Champion City

Ithaca, NY : 2018 Champion City

One-stop Support in the Fight Against Drug Addiction

  • 30,756

  • Svante Myrick

  • Directly Elected Mayor

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Health

    Issue Area

The Problem

Local overdose rates have increased 1,000 percent over the past 10 years—and overdose victims are too often being swept into the criminal justice system, despite research showing that community-based programs produce better outcomes.

The Idea

The City of Ithaca will adapt a proven drug policy strategy through the development of a one-stop-shop where people who use drugs can access coordinated services – ranging from harm-reducing treatment and a supervised injection facility to medical services and job training.

What Svante Myrick, Mayor of Ithaca, NY is saying:

Overdose rates have increased 1,000 percent in the past 10 years—and cities across America are looking for answers. We feel that Ithaca has a solution that will save lives and improve treatment outcomes.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • Ithaca will create a physical mock-up of the one-stop-shop and engage substance-use affected individuals (including users, high-risk neighbors) and social service agencies in providing feedback on if and how they would interact with the space.

    Our idea will impact all people who use drugs, as well as those who work with, related to or live in environments where drugs are used.

    Stephen Smith, City Councilman
  • Ideas into Action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    The Ithaca team hired an architect with experience in designing for safe consumption settings to help to build 3D renderings of what the space will look like. Bringing in this expertise has allowed the team to think about aspects of the design of the physical space which they would have otherwise overlooked. For example, the team must consider that individuals will need storage for their possessions in order for them to feel comfortable using the space.

    When you have a topic with a level of controversy attached to it, you’re always gonna have challenges with stakeholders in the community.

    Michelle McElroy, Deputy Executive Director, Southern Tier AIDS Program

    Safe injection spaces can be controversial with certain members of the population. The team is learning how to address people’s concerns and move the conversation in a more constructive direction. This can mean working with key individuals who oppose the idea to inform them how it would work as part of a suite of solutions to address opioid addiction. Online, the team has been keeping their finger on the pulse to make sure discussions about the topic are furnished with evidence and context.

    Stellar article on Ithaca's Reach Medical. Notes #twIthaca as harm reduction leader & city's selection as @BloombergDotOrg #MayorsChallenge finalist. @NYGovCuomo, let us innovate—say #YesToSCS. #EndOverdoseIthaca #EndOverdoseNY @AllegedButler @SvanteMyrick http://www.ithaca.com/news/ithaca/a-compassionate-approach-keeping-people-alive-is-at-the-core/article_287aedee-5ea6-11e8-991c-ef35c89e9297.html …

    1:55 PM - 23 May 2018   kcelentano  
  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    The team knew that to get popular support for their idea, careful communication would be key. Through testing, they learned that messaging focused on ‘lives saved’ was dramatically more effective than messaging that focused on cost savings or public safety. Secondly, posts on social media - rather than printed posters - proved to be an effective way to educate and correct misinformation on Safer Consumption Spaces.