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Defend W Asheville Harm Reduction

$5,350 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 75 people in 18 days
THE STEADY COLLECTIVE is a three year old harm reduction organization that began operating a syringe access program in 2016, following the statewide legalization of such programs. Steady distributes clean needles, naloxone (used to reverse opioid overdose), fentanyl test kits, educational materials, and referrals to treatment upon request. This work is now being threatened by the City of Asheville. We need your support to resist gentrification, protecting harm reduction services and the spaces that support them!

On August 8th, The Steady Collective and Firestorm, a bookstore co-operative that hosts Steady’s weekly outreach event on Haywood Road, were both given thirty days to stop distributing needles and naloxone in West Asheville, a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification. This action was accompanied by a parallel move against Kairos West Community Center, a neighboring institution that hosts free meals in collaboration with the Asheville Poverty Initiative. Taken together, we understand this as a shameful attack on our community’s most vulnerable members.

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Southern Appalachia has been one of the regions hardest hit by the national “opioid crisis,” a biomedically produced, policy-driven phenomenon of opioid overprescribing followed by irresponsible stoppage of pain medication prescriptions, leading to an increase in heroin use. More people in Appalachia suffer and die from opioid-related substance use disorders, with less access to treatment options, than anywhere else in the country. Last year, Steady distributed 73,000 new syringes and 1,762 naloxone kits. The organization received 258 overdose reversal reports from folks using their kits (66% of all street reversal reports in our county). These reports are increasing dramatically in 2018.

Within this deadly context, attempts by the City of Asheville to impose additional regulatory burden on activists and health care workers doing harm reduction is unconscionable. If the City is successful, it will set a disastrous precedent for North Carolina and cost lives throughout our community.

WHY WE'RE ASKING FOR MONEY

The Steady Collective and Firestorm are grassroots organizations with limited staffing and financial resources. Over the last month, both have been unable to maintain normal operations due to the intense time requirements of responding to this action by the City of Asheville. Additionally, Steady has now lost a $15k grant as a result of City action. This is a gentrification resistance and survival fund. Money raised may be used to cover the costs of contesting the City’s notice of violation (including an initial $1,662 in appeals fees), increased staff time, and the loss of other funding sources.

We also ask that you support Firestorm, which has expended countless staff hours and thousands of dollars in lost sales while defending Steady’s harm reduction event. Please help the co-operative continue its work -- including the provision of space and resources to dozens of other grassroots organizations -- by joining their Community Sustainer Program at www.firestorm.coop/sustainers.html.

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LEARN MORE

The Steady Collective
www.thesteadycollective.org 

“Needles on Haywood Road!” An introduction to harm reduction in West Asheville
www.firestorm.coop/news/126-needles-on-haywood-road.html 

“Deadline on city violation notices nears for West Asheville nonprofits”
www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2018/08/29/deadline-nears-12-baskets-other-west-asheville-nonprofits/1112328002 

Other organizations to support
12 Baskets Cafe - www.facebook.com/AshevillePovertyInitiative
Kairos West Community Center - www.facebook.com/KairosWest

#AVLZONESFOROVERDOSE
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On August 17th Asheville's zoning enforcement department issued a notice of zoning violation for our weekly outreach at Firestorm Books . Today Shannon Tuch, Asheville's principal planner, informed us that she would not be revoking the notices for Firestorm or Steady. We will be forced to appeal and go before the board of adjustment.
We are deeply saddened that city employees have decided to double down on a an ill-informed, dangerous decision. Syringe exchange does not most closely resemble a "shelter" as defined by the UDO (their assertion). We are in violation of nothing and we plan to fight these notices. People's lives literally depend on it.

In the 30 days since we received the NOV, Steady distributed 12,160 new syringes, 189 naloxone kits, and received 13 reversal reports. Ten of those reversals were reported at our Firestorm location (bringing the total reversal reports for the year at that site to 62).
Thank you so much for calling city officials over the past few weeks. Thank you for buying shirts (we have just a handful left) and giving to our resistance fund and Firestorm's sustainer program. We will continue to need you in the coming months.
Thanks for believing in Steady and the raddest bookstore around.
We love our participants and they deserve access to harm reduction and non-judgemental care.
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Friends, the City of Asheville has just one day left to revoke the notices of violation (NOVs) issued to The Steady Collective and Firestorm Books & Coffee. Please call Interim City Manager Cathy Ball (828-259-5604 | cball@ashevillenc.gov), Interim Assistant City Manager Scott Burnett (828-259-5604 | stburnette@ashevillenc.gov), and Director of Urban Planning and Design Todd Okolichany (828-259-5840 | tokolichany@ashevillenc.gov) before the week is over. These are the folks who have the power to pull the plug. Please also continue to reach out to City Council ( www.ashevillemegaphone.com). They can't revoke the NOVs but they'll be involved in whatever comes next, be that litigation or new attempts to regulate and restrict harm reduction.

When you call, be polite (we want these folks on our side) but let officials know that it is an embarrassment for a progressive municipality to be using public resources to shut down harm reduction work in the midst of a public health crisis. Affirm that Firestorm is *not* operating an illegal shelter and that Steady's work should be classified as an instructional, clinical, or pharmacy service (all of which are permitted on Haywood Road). Please read the short post "Needles on Haywood Road!" and other sources linked below for talking points.

It would be especially valuable to have parents, teachers, and West Asheville business owners call the city today, because these are the groups on whose behalf the city is claiming to act. It wouldn't hurt to have people outside WNC call, because Asheville needs to know that this situation could attract negative national publicity for the city.

__Talking Point Sources__

"Needles on Haywood Road!"
www.firestorm.coop/news/126-needles-on-haywood-road.html

Harm Reduction Coalition
www.harmreduction.org

NC Harm Reduction Coalition
www.nchrc.org

Drug Policy Alliance
www.drugpolicy.org
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Friends, we're posting to share updates and some additional context for this important campaign.

On Friday, August 31st -- just hours after our fundraiser was launched -- it was confirmed that Steady Collective's contract with Buncombe County could not be renewed. Due to the notice of zoning violation, Steady's insurer refused to renew the organization's policy. It is a condition of Steady's contract with the county that insurance coverage be maintained. The notice of zoning violation mis-characterizing Steady Collective's outreach at Firestorm as a "shelter" has now directly resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars of critical funding for harm reduction in Asheville. As Steady's Director, Hillary Brown, reminded those gathered Friday evening for Overdose Awareness Day, we are in the state with the second fastest growth rate for overdose. We cannot zone our way out of the crisis.

When we met with Asheville's principal planner Shannon Tuch and city attorney Robin Currin last week, we learned something new and concerning. City officials stated that, regardless of the outcome of our appeal, it is their intention to write "syringe exchange" into the Unified Development Ordinance as a particular "land use." Like disaster relief organizations, syringe access programs must go where the need is greatest. If syringe access is added to the city's zoning code, it will create barriers to response, and organizations like Steady may end up fighting an uphill battle every time they enter a different area of town. Worse, as the first municipality in North Carolina to consider such regulation, Asheville could set a dangerous precedent for the entire state drastically reducing the effectiveness of harm reduction work throughout the region. We can't afford to let that happen!

We are so grateful for your support during this difficult time. If you have not already, we ask that you share this campaign with your networks.
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"You can't zone your way out of the opioid crisis." Last week The Steady Collective's Hillary Brown sat down with Speaking Over The Mountains for a wide-ranging conversation on harm reduction in Southern Appalachia and city officials' efforts to push community services out of West Asheville. Listen to "Episode 31 - Steady Collective" by Meg & Drew https://www.spreaker.com/user/sotm/episode-31-steady-collective-9-1-18-11-0
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Read a Previous Update

$5,350 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 75 people in 18 days
Funds raised will benefit:
The Steady Collective
  Certified Charity
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Asheville, NC
EIN: 812667872
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