Our city is doing a great disservice to its residents by not standing by organizations like Steady Collective.
Steady Collective is a harm-reduction organization that distributes clean needles, fentanyl test kits, naloxone and referrals for treatment on request. They also collect used needles and dispose of them safely. The approach used by organizations like Steady is evidence-based and endorsed by the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.
This approach is also lifesaving. This year alone, 62 reversals have been reported to Firestorm [Books & Coffee] (the location Steady operates out of). Those are 62 people who had access to naloxone because of Steady, 62 deaths that were prevented, 62 people whose lives were saved because of Steady’s work.
So why is the city working to shut it down?
In early August, the city government issued a notice of zoning violation to Steady, along with Kairos West and 12 Baskets, on the basis that they are operating like a shelter. The notice has since been rescinded for Kairos and 12 Baskets, but Steady is forced to continue to put time and resources into resisting attempts by the city, specifically Asheville’s Principal Planner Shannon Tuch and interim City Manager Cathy Ball, to shut them down.
The services provided by Steady Collective are, in fact, not the services that a shelter would provide. They are instructional and clinical in nature — and lifesaving. For a town that touts its “progressiveness,” the city of Asheville has shown once again that it is only willing to take the measures that will make our town pretty for its tourists — not livable for its residents.
— McKel Cox
Editor’s note: The city provided a response and update in the Oct. 24 Xpress, which can be found in an editor’s note at avl.mx/5ex.