SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) The volunteer harm reduction group, Harm Reduction Coalition of Santa Cruz County, was authorized by the California Department of Public Health to run its own needs-based syringe services program.
Now that the group is approved, it will be able to offer syringe and other harm reduction services directly to the public instead of operating as a secondary exchange through the county. The $400,000 grant will also allow for three full time team members, and a stipend for other workers that were previously helping as volunteers.
“We're also not getting supplies from the county so they’ll feel better resourced, and we’ll be better resourced," Harm Reduction Coalition coordinator Dani Drysdale said. "We’ll be getting not just syringes, but things like PPE and sanitizing equipment that are really important in this moment.”
The program received opposition from some in the community that argue the program does not have enough medical oversight and could lead to more needles left behind.
Drysdale says because of the funding they’ll be able to do even more syringe pick-ups and sweeps.
The grant lasts for three years. In total, $12 million will go to 37 different harm reduction groups around the state for similar programs, according to Drysdale.