City of Eureka opposes HACHR Syringe Exchange Program, HACHR responds to allegations

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EUREKA, Calif. (KIEM) – The Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction’s syringe exchange program is up for state re-authorization, and the City of Eureka opposes the program. The city believes that HACHR’s SEP is not operating in compliance with state and local law.

Mayor Susan Seaman, city attorney Robert Black, and Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson sent a letter to the California Department of Public Health stating their opposition to the re-certification of HACHR. They also laid out their findings from six undercover operations at the Eureka location.

The fact finding mission was launched after numerous citizen complaints, and the city having reason to believe there was more than a needle and syringe litter problem with HACHR’s SEP.

According to EPD’s findings, HACHR is handing out safe smoking kits during a 4 hour window once a week. These kits include foil sheets, brass screens, glass stems and glass bubblers, as well as an information sheet instructing users on the best technique for getting high.

Over the course of several months, EPD also observed that HACHR has been complicit in the sale and on-site use of drugs. Police say it strongly suggests some HACHR staff members are actively involved in this.

In response, the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction put out their own statement directly addressing some of the accusations made by the city.

They say HACHR has a 0 tolerance policy for drug use or selling on their property, in which clients are made aware of and sign an agreement for. They don’t promote methamphetamine or other substance use, but say that safe smoking kits are an evidence based harm reduction tool. They also take syringe litter seriously adding that cleanup has always been a part of their work.

In addition to being disappointed by the City of Eureka’s opposition, Executive Director Lasara Firefox Allen, went on to say in part, “We look forward to speaking with City officials about their concerns. HACHR has been transparent with local officials and we welcome community members to collaborate in seeking solutions to the complex issues of substance use and the health and wellbeing of all people.”

Link to full report with photos and videos: https://transfer.ci.eureka.ca.gov:5252/fsdownload/NGHkHmJma/HACHR