In Kendra Brooks by Kendra Brooks

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PHILADELPHIA – Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) issued the following statement on her vote in opposition to the zoning overlay that would ban overdose prevention centers in most of Philadelphia:

“I voted against the overlay to ban overdose prevention centers. In the midst of an overdose crisis that is destroying families and communities, we should not be banning a tool that could save lives. We should make decisions based on evidence-based public health research, tools that have been proven to be effective, and lived experience.

“My support for harm reduction and overdose prevention comes from my own life experiences. I have watched addiction take hold in people I love, and I have been through the trauma and devastation that comes with it. In my family, we have suffered violence, cruelty, and loss caused by addiction. We have raised the children of addicted parents who are absent or in prison, and we have mourned loved ones who died early deaths.

“I know from experience that people with addiction are not easy to live with, and they’re not easy to love. But when it’s your family, you don’t have a choice. You keep loving them. You keep rooting for them. You keep hoping that they will live long enough to make it to recovery.

“According to researchers, a third of Americans fear that someone in their family will die of an opioid overdose. I live with that fear every day, and I know many other Philadelphians do too. It’s an important reminder that this crisis does not just impact people who use drugs; it impacts entire families.

“I’ve seen people I love make it through to the other side of their addiction. It takes courage, faith, support, and a lot of time. But for the thousands of people in Philadelphia with addictions, and for the millions of people who love them, time is running out.

“The rise of drugs like fentanyl and xylazine are cutting lives short at an alarming rate. The number one cause of death for people under 40 in Pennsylvania is accidental overdose. Nationally, this rate has skyrocketed over the past five years, and the devastation is accelerating in Black and brown communities. In 2021, Philly had more than twice the number of overdose deaths than homicides. Our city is finally treating the gun violence crisis with the urgency it deserves. Why are we failing to treat the opioid crisis with the same urgency? These are preventable deaths that we are failing to prevent.

“Across the country, the overdose crisis is getting worse, and many of the approaches we have tried – from declaring a war on drugs to locking up millions of young Black men – have failed. What we’re doing is not working. This ban does nothing to address the overdose crisis, and it offers no hope to the countless people who are praying for their loved ones to live long enough to make it to recovery. With a crisis this deadly, my focus is on finding the strategies that will prevent people from dying, and I can’t support permanently banning a tool that is proven to save lives.”


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