Esther and Gary Witte and Winie Wirth holding signs

Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

1DivineLine2Health (1DL2H), a grassroots community 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was denied the purchase of a house to be used as a Drop-In Center for the Street Sisters on Sullivant Avenue who are often murdered, raped and beaten. Currently the City does not want to issue the permits for the house that was donated to 1DL2H and is demanding 13 different construction items to be completed before allowing the building to be used as a drop-in center.

On the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Mayor Ginther came to the Hilltop to give his gratuitous speech to roll out the Hilltop Envision plan and ignored the picketing of 1DL2H supporters. Last year, the mayor walked away three times from me when I implored him to exercise his authority and help the west side human trafficking victims. He gave the usual shrug-off, telling me “Someone will get back to you.”

I told him about the need for full-time Drop-In Centers to tend the needs of the women, their children and trans women who are affected by prostitution and addiction. I shared our statistics from our 4-hour Drop-In Center. In 2019, we served 1,511 women, 57 children, 34 trans women. His response was “I can’t use just one approach.” I countered, “This one approach is a holistic approach that will save lives unlike the ineffective strategies that continues to fuel the opiate overdose rates.”

The two Hilltop zip codes 43204 and 43223 continue to be in the five top zip codes with the highest opiate overdoses. The harm reduction director, Andrea Boxill at the Columbus Health Department, agrees with 1DL2H’s approach, which proves to be effective in other metropolitan cities in the United States. The proof of needing a different approach was in the 2019 Franklin Coroners opiate overdose report showed a 15% increase compared to 2018, and an increase of women dying. As of January 14, Mayor Ginther’s office has not responded.  The same week he was on the Hilltop, there were two women raped and beaten on the west side.

Esther Flores is a registered nurse and the founder of IDIVINELINE2HEALTH.

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