Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2001
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2001, New Haven Register
Author: Carrie Melago


NEW HAVEN - Despite fierce resistance from Newhallville residents to an all 
day-all night "safe house" for drug abusers in their neighborhood, 
supporters of the plan are looking for even more input before rejecting the 
idea for good.

The 24-hour site, one part of Empower New Haven's citywide substance abuse 
strategy, has enraged neighbors who believe the members of the Newhallville 
Management Team overstepped its bounds earlier this year by requesting that 
the facility come to their community.

At a meeting with about 50 neighbors Wednesday, management team leaders 
said they would meet next week to devise a way to inform as many neighbors 
as possible about the plan, possibly using voter registration lists. 
Another community meeting would likely be held, and then a final decision 
would be made.

The management team will meet 6 p.m. Tuesday at the police substation at 
596 Winchester Ave.

Some residents, like the Rev. E. J. Moss, are concerned that supporters of 
the facility, which would be open all hours of the day, will continue 
holding meetings until they get their way.

"Apparently, they have not gotten the message," Moss said.

For its part, Empower New Haven says it has no desire to move the facility 
into a neighborhood that doesn't want it. Newhallville Management Team has 
45 days to give them a determination, or they will take the site to one of 
the other Empowerment Zone neighborhoods.

"This is not to ram it down your throats," said Sherri Killans, executive 
director of Empower New Haven.

In the meantime, Empower New Haven is moving forward with other citywide 
aspects of its substance abuse strategy.

Within about 30 days, officials said, three other programs should be in 
motion that they hope will remove barriers to treatment and employment: an 
800 number that drug abusers can turn to for emergency advice and 
counseling; a transportation system that will deliver users to detox 
programs; and a network to connect people in recovery to job training 

Supporters of the 24/7 site say the safe house could be a first stop toward 
sobriety and normalcy for substance abusers who feel they have nowhere else 
to turn. With a facility right in their neighborhood, abusers might feel 
more comfortable seeking help any hour of the day or night, they say.

Katurah Abdul-Salaam, a management team members, said she thought 
Newhallville lacked the health care facilities like those in the Hill and 
Fair Haven.

"We don't have that. We're in a drought here," she said.

But opponents worry the safe house would attract more dealers and users, 
possibly undoing progress made by longtime homeowners.

Most of all, though, opponents feel slighted that the management team made 
a decision without informing neighbors, even ones next to the site on 
Shelton Avenue that had initially been considered.

"How many times do we have to say we don't want it?" asked the Rev. Boise 
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