KENSINGTON (FOX 29) - One non-profit organization is attempting to open the first ever "safe injection site" for heroin users in Kensington amid blow back from the community and federal government alike.
On Monday, city officials and community members saw standing room only crowds pack into Bethel Temple Community Bible Church on Allegheny Avenue to discuss this controversial plan.
A building on Hilton Street is the desired site where Safehouse Philly wants to open the country's first safe injection site. Addict will be able inject illegal drugs under the supervision of trained medical staff.
Advocates claim the cities in other countries with these types of sites have seen fewer deaths, more addicts getting into treatment and improved neighborhoods.
But push back from concerned residence of the area centered around encouraging drug use and the finances it will take to keep an injection site open.
"How much money have we put out for this opioid thing that we don't for our school," asked one person in attendance.
Over the last two years, Philadelphia's opioid crisis claimed 2,300 lives. Advocates say drastic measures need to be taken for a drastic problem.
"The facility is there to help, it's going to be there to save lives, it's going to be a place where if they want to get help or they are ready then we are ready for them," said Pichardo.
One former heroin addict, however, believes an injection site would only lead to more addiction.
"I know I can come here and use, and if I overdose, I'm still going to live," said Jerry Schiazza.
The federal government is also among the opposition. Recently, the feds filed a lawsuit that challenges the legality of such a site.
Safehouse Philly representatives were not at the forum in Kensington on Monday, but the group will detail their plans to the community during a civic association meeting held at Heitzman Rec Center Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.
FOX 29 has learned that Safehouse Philadelphia is also seeking to open a second property in Center City.