The Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC) is a grassroots gathering of Harlem based resident associations, businesses, and faith-based organizations. As neighbors, we firmly support and respect the right of people struggling with addiction to get the services they need. However, the policy of The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to routinely site substance abuse programs in low-income communities of color has led to the extreme oversaturation of these programs in Harlem and East Harlem.
Oversaturation in the vicinity of 125th Street has had a negative impact on our community and is in violation of the Fair Share Guidelines of the City of New York. Moreover, it has a counterproductive effect on the patients of those facilities. History and data has shown that a problem cannot be eradicated when it’s concentrated (be it poverty, crime, or addiction). Ignoring the existing oversaturation, Mount Sinai plans to add an additional addiction treatment/psychiatry program on 124th Street between Lenox Ave and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, that is set to add another 350 patients commuting into the area daily (total of 2,500 patients enrolled at a time).
This is an issue of public health and public safety. The facilities currently operating addiction treatment clinics are not adhering the federal and state obligations set forth by OASAS and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – there is no program in place to mitigate the environmental and health risk of having several hundreds of vulnerable patients (75% of whom travel for treatment from outside of Harlem) clustered together. It has led to a concentration of illegal drug dealers who prey on this population. Mount Sinai, who already operates an 800-patient methadone clinic directly across the street from the proposed facility, has stated that they cannot afford to ensure public safety outside their programs despite the health impact this has on their patients.
We therefore believe that until Mount Sinai addresses the existing issues, they have not earned the right to expand their addiction services and add hundreds and hundreds of other patients suffering from mental illness.
To: Mount Sinai Hospital, Mayor of the City of New York Bill DeBlasio, NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
From: [Your Name]
Us, the undersigned are petitioning the following:
1. We oppose the facility Mount Sinai plans to open on 124th St between Lenox Ave and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd.
2. We request that the licenses of currently operating facilities be reevaluated and a comprehensive action plan be implemented to address public safety and positive health outcomes for existing at-risk patients.