People's Harm Reduction Alliance
at Christ Church
At Christ Episcopal Church, we recognize that there are many issues in the University District of Seattle that need addressing; that's why we are honored and glad to be one of the operation sites for the People's Harm Reduction Alliance.
Who is PHRA?
PHRA, or the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, is a community-based non-profit that has provided harm reduction services for Seattle since 2007. You can find out more about them by visiting their website, www.phra.org.
What is harm reduction?
Harm reduction is an evidence-based set of practical strategies aimed at reducing the negative consequences of drug use. This approach respects the autonomy of each person, giving folks the opportunity to stop using on their own terms rather than using coercion or force, and keeping users safe until they are ready to get clean.
What services do PHRA offer?
PHRA services include:
Clean supplies for drug users, including syringe disposal, clean needles, smoking and snorting kits
Naloxone (also known as Narcan, a life-saving anti-overdose medication) distribution and training
Suboxone (an opioid addiction medication)
Hepatitis C screening and treatment
Counseling and addiction care services
Harm reduction doulas to help pregnant drug users
Limited basic services, such as helping navigate the healthcare system, beginning to look for housing, and other living basics such as food, clothing, contraception, and bathroom facilities.
What space does PHRA have at Christ Church?
PHRA is licensing an office in the undercroft (formerly the Choir Room) and half of the undercroft storage closet. These spaces are exclusively under PHRA control under the terms of their agreement. Additionally, PHRA is sharing the main undercroft space with Christ Church. PHRA uses the undercroft during their operating hours, and Christ Church has access to the undercroft during the rest of the week.
When is PHRA using the undercroft?
PHRA is open from 5pm-7pm Tuesday and Thursday, 1pm-5pm on Friday and Sunday. They need up to 2 hours before their operating hours for setup, and an hour afterwards for clean-up.
What if I want to use the undercroft during these hours?
We should work to avoid scheduling conflicts whenever possible - PHRA is a rent-paying tenant who expects to have access to the space they are renting. The vestry approved the relationship with PHRA with the understanding that we may have to make some adjustments to our old patterns of worship and fellowship to be able to accommodate this life-saving work.
If it is unavoidable, please reach out to Todd Voelker with as much advance notice as possible, and he will work with PHRA to make appropriate arrangements.
How does this affect the Christ Church campus?
In many ways, it helps make our campus safer and more welcoming! There has been an increase in vandalism, garbage, and unauthorized camping throughout the U District as wealth inequality continues to rise, and Christ Church has been impacted by this as much as any other building in the neighborhood. PHRA staff and volunteers have basic training in deescalation, and do a sweep of the property before they leave after each service. PHRA helps clean up garbage and keeps the building active and occupied, not dark and empty. Many PHRA clients view the Church as an ally in their struggles, and take pride in helping protect it from damage or misuse.
Why is Christ Church hosting PHRA?
Besides our central U-District location, providing care for our neighbors is very much within the overarching Christian mission given directly from Jesus: love your neighbor as yourself. We don’t know what situations and circumstances that our neighbors have endured, but it is our vocation to show them the love and care that God has for them. It’s important to remember that drug use impacts members of community from all walks of life, both wealthy and poor, housed and unhoused. It is our mission to care for everyone, whether their drug use occurs outside or behind closed doors.