Eureka City Council temporarily bans syringe exchange programs until new ordinance is passed

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EUREKA, Calif. (KIEM) — The Eureka City Council has voted to temporarily ban syringe exchange programs in the city. This includes the program run by the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction.

The City of Eureka and HACHR have been trying to address issues about its syringe exchange program, and find a solution that addresses community concerns, but also allows HACHR to continue operating. Some ideas included reducing HACHR’s hours of service and hiring a security guard at their third street location. An agreement couldn’t be reached. The city decided to temporarily ban all syringe exchange programs until a new ordinance can be passed.

“The concerns were that between now and those 6 months of having that ordinance passed, that it would be standard operating procedure like it was prior to now. So, because of the concerns of that happened in the neighborhood, that’s why we wanted to have some interim measures put in place just until we can get to that ordinance,” according to Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery.

The temporary ban officially goes into effect December 16th. The County’s SEP run by the Department of Health and Human Services is allowed to keep operating within the city. While HACHR can no longer operate its SEP, it is still able to provide other services like free HIV and Hepatitis C testing.

Following the decision, HACHR released a statement on their Facebook page. Below is an excerpt from that statement.

”We are going to do everything we can to get syringes to those who need them. We will take every action available to us in order to make sure the needs of our population are met, and to protect the community as a whole.”

There was also some talk about HACHR operating a mobile-only syringe exchange program. That will be brought back before the council for discussion on January 2nd. Slattery says he is hopeful that a new ordinance can be brought before the council sometime in March of next year.