Neighbors say they weren’t included in the talks until the site was approved by the US government and the state. They believe the facility will attract crime.

BUFFALO, NY — Neighbors who live in the University District of Buffalo are mobilizing against the Hopewell Center addiction clinic, which is slated to open in Cleveland Hill Square on Kensington Avenue next year.

It’s not just because of the impact neighbors think this addiction treatment center will have on their neighborhood.

They are also upset because they say they were only told about the clinic at two different public meetings, after it was approved by the federal government and the Office of Health Services and Supports. New York State drug addiction.

Neighbors express concern about the location as they believe the facility will attract crime.

“(People will) break into cars, hang around, pray over other people’s addictions,” said Shekinah Powers, one of the protesters.

Diana Goodwin, who lives nearby, added: “We really don’t feel safe here, and they have to consider our opinions.”

Buffalo Common Council member Rasheed Wyatt oversees the University District. He supports the neighbours, saying no data was shown to them or no explanation was given as to why the site was chosen.

He also wrote a letter to House Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and State Senator Tim Kennedy, asking them to facilitate a conversation between the Office of Addiction Services and Supports and neighbors.

A week later, he is still waiting for an answer.

“I can’t recommend where it should go, but I know it shouldn’t be done here because the residents have spoken loud and clear that they don’t want to see it here,” Wyatt said. “We don’t operate in a vacuum. This should never have been approved without the input of residents. How do you do that?”

Added powers: “All we’re asking for is a reversal. Go to another site. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us asking for that, and being told and being being treated as if it weren’t possible is simply not acceptable. That’s why we have to take a stand.”

A spokesperson for Hopewell said the company asked to meet with protesters on July 29, but they declined the meeting.

Wyatt told 2 On Your Side that’s because residents don’t want to negotiate with Hopewell, but rather with the Office of Addiction Services and Supports.

Hopewell officials provided data to 2 On Your Side that was presented at the last meeting of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force:

  • There have been 78 confirmed cases of opioid-related deaths in Erie County this year and another 123 pending through July 2022. That’s nearly one life lost every day in Erie County, and on the way. to break another record.
  • Although opioid use disorder does not discriminate against race, gender, or age, the greatest increases in lives lost occur in Black and Native American communities.
  • In 2021, 156 lives were lost in the city of Buffalo alone, accounting for more than 50% of opioid-related deaths in 2021, with Buffalo having just 28% of Erie County’s population.

Despite the data, neighbors would like to see the facility elsewhere.

“Why not in neighborhoods where a lot of people get addicted?” said Herald Barnes.

Barnes suggests the state locate the facility near Buffalo Niagara International Airport because it is more commercial than residential.

The site will serve Erie County residents and bus those recovering in Cattaraugus County to and from the center.

It’s also not the first addiction treatment center to come to East Buffalo.

“There are already five located within two miles of the area,” Powers said. “We don’t need another.”

Full statement from Hopewell:

“The Hopewell Center has conducted extensive planning and due diligence to develop a state-of-the-art opioid use disorder treatment center in Buffalo. The goal of the Hopewell Center is to increase access to care for people with opioid use disorders and to provide a welcoming environment for our patients to receive treatment.

“The site-finding planning process involved balancing several factors, including convenient access to public and private transportation, the ability to attract the best healthcare professionals and clinicians to staff the clinic, square footage squares to provide full programming, ample parking for patients and staff, and a location that permitted medical use – all of which are criteria met at Cleve-Hill Plaza.

“We realize that there are negative perceptions and stigmas associated with treatment centers and the disease itself. Over the past several months, the Hopewell Center has attempted to engage with local leaders and community stakeholders to accurately inform area residents about the clinic and its operations. We have also worked to correct misinformation that has spread in the community.

“Just as individuals have the right to protest, individuals have the right to receive professional medical treatment for opioid use disorder in a safe and private environment. We are confident that the Hopewell Center will be an asset for the Cleve-Hill Plaza, the surrounding neighborhood, and above all will save lives.

“The opioid epidemic continues to have a devastating impact on all communities and walks of life with record overdoses last year. In 2021, there were 280 opioid-related deaths in Erie County – 156 of those lives lost were from the city of Buffalo, with the largest increase in deaths among African Americans and Native Americans over the past four last years.

“The Hopewell Center will be open to ALL treatment seekers for opioid use disorder throughout the city of Buffalo and beyond. We look forward to continuing our efforts to work collaboratively with community leaders and area residents to help improve the

Cleve-Hill Plaza, support the neighborhood and provide much-needed access to treatment as our wider community continues to fight the growing opioid epidemic.