NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City could become the first in the nation to have supervised drug injection sites known as Overdose Prevention Centers.
On Thursday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a year-long pioneering yet controversial pilot program at current needle-exchange facilities in Midtown West and Washington Heights in Manhattan, the Gowanus section of Brooklyn and Longwood in the Bronx.
The mayor's endorsement comes as the city's Health Department released a study on the program, saying it could prevent 130 overdose deaths each year.
Someone dies of a drug overdose in New York City every seven hours. Per year, that's more deaths than from car crashes, suicides and homicides combined.
For years, Kassandra Frederique from the Drug Policy Alliance has been pushing the concept of what the city is now calling Overdose Prevention Centers.
A similar program in Vancouver provides a safe, sterile facility where anonymous addicts can take their drugs under the watchful eyes of medical professionals who are there to help in case of an overdose. They also provide counseling to beat addiction -- all with no fear of arrest.
"The tools we have available right now are not enough to deal with this overdose crisis," Frederique said.
Not everyone is on board with the idea of essentially legalizing drug use in their neighborhood.
"It just sort of creates this realm and this environment for the neighborhood that there's this drug center," a concerned resident in Washington Heights said.
Before the pilot can even begin, the governor needs to sign off and the city is promising to set ground rules in conjunction with members of each community affected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio backs plan to open supervised injection sites
More TOP STORIES News