See who we are, how and why we do what we do...
You’re about to get a look at our world. It’s a world for drug users. They’re poor and sometimes homeless; black and Latino; many living with HIV and/or hepatitis C; gay, straight and transgender; trying to quit drugs or just trying to stay alive and healthy while they use. It’s a world that accepts people on their own terms and understands that change comes not from punishing people and shutting them out but loving them as they are. And it’s a world where clean syringes for injection-drug users, which are proven to prevent further HIV and hepatitis C infections, are just the start of how we take care of one another.
It’s the world of CitiWide Harm Reduction, founded 15 years ago by a drug user himself. Since then, we’ve helped an estimated 10,000 residents of the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan—an area including the highest rates of poverty, injection-drug use and HIV infections in the City, let alone the country—avoid getting sicker and dying. Again, we’ve done it not just by distributing annually an estimated 250,000 clean syringes and injection kits on-site and in the surrounding community. But by providing a safe space where drug users are accepted and the tools of transformation abound: everything from a shower, a meal and a place to nap to a connection to health care, mental health, drug recovery and stable housing. Many of our participants become staffers here or go on to do work in the broader community. Many get off drugs here, too, on their own timetable. Everyone feels safer here than they do on the streets.
You’ll see who we are, how and why we do what we do, in the pages ahead. We couldn’t do it without the daily generosity of our board, staff, participants (not “clients”), funders and volunteers, plus the crucial guidance of our Participant Advisory Board. I hope you become a part of our community in some fashion. It’s been an amazing journey so far. If you believe that drug users deserve safety and health over judgment and derision, we need your help going forward.