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Our Advocacy

150+ Members of the Greater Harlem Coalition request our government to distribute social services undesirable to wealthier whiter neighborhoods more evenly throughout New York City, so the vulnerable population have easily accessible social services and neighborhoods of color would not become the city’s containment zone.

To establish effective treatment programs in healthful local communities, The Greater Harlem Coalition advocates for small-scale holistic addiction treatment programs to be located throughout all New York neighborhoods to replace some of the clusters of large scale centers that treats thousands of patients a week. Through our lived experience, we have witnessed pitfalls of current drug treatment and harm reduction programs in New York City that informed our advocacy. Below are the main focus of the group and our legislative initiatives:

Legislative Initiatives

We need your help to lobby for change in policies to ensure no community of color will be subjected to oversaturation

Issue and the BillsOur proposalTalk to your representatives
1Overdose Prevention Centers (Safer Consumption Act S399A/A338)
GHC asks for additional safety guardrails to ensure OPCs can reduce harm for both the patients and the community, including requiring many site to be opened throughout New York or none, restricting the distance between the site and schools, and funding environmental impact studies, security enforcement, community engagement, and tracking of patients’ recovery progress
View our proposed amendments to S399A/A338

(View details of our proposal here)
Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Rosenthal
Senator Cleare, AM Dickens, AM Taylor
2Drug Treatment Accessibility :
aA2260/S1905 : Mandate NY Office of Addiction Support and Services (OASAS) to better match drug treatment capacities to local population size. Currently, 36 out of 64 NYC assembly districts have no treatment capacities and Queens has 20% of NYC’s overdose rates but only 7% of NYC’s treatment capacities.AM Septimo, Senator Cleare
b. A less strict form of amendment to A2260/S1905 is to mandate OASAS to match drug treatment capacities to local demand for drug treatment servicesSee our proposalSenator Cleare
CSupport an amendments to A9571 by Assembly Member Inez Dickens– Place a limit to the maximum density of drug treatment programs in each New York State Assembly District View our proposed revision (Also a shorter version A5123 by Michael Benedetto)AM Dickens, AM Gibbs, AM Taylor, AM Benedetto
3Green Space Accessibility: For Assembly to sponsor S8862/A5360 to review land use and transportation needs on Randall’s Island so as to improve New Yorkers’ ability access the green space on the Island and to review if there are possibilities to refurbish the congregate shelters for affordable housing.AM Gibbs, AM Taylor, AM Dickens
4Community Engagement Requirements: For Congress to pass Bill 8917 by Rep Espaillat to mandate community engagement by drug treatment programsRep Espaillat, Rep Tonko, Rep Meng, Rep Torres
5Fair Share in New York City: In 2017, New York City Council attempted to pass legislation to mandate fair share for each district, so needed resources are equitably distributed and also social services unwanted by wealthier districts are not pushed to lower income areas which has less political capital to push backDeputy Speaker Diana Ayala, Comptroller Brad Lander

Area of Advocacy

1) Governance in the density of social service siting:

OASAS, Office of Addiction Services and Support, the governing body for the treatment programs, must be held accountable for performing holistic review of the distribution of both drug treatment and harm reduction programs. The goal of this review should be to ensure capacity is allocated to areas where there is a real local need in all New York neighborhoods and to deconcentrate the clustering of programs currently found in communities like Harlem and East Harlem. To avoid the distortive feedback loop of adding treatment to area where the government brought in patients, the assessment of local need should exclude shelter residents. This might require expanding the scope of Certification of Needs (CON), including a health equity assessment. (see our proposed revision to Bill A9571)

2) Zoning regulations 

Akin to current zoning regulation of liquor store and adult establishments, drug treatment and harm reduction programs should not be located within a certain distance near schools and playgrounds so as to minimize negative impact on our children. Also, they should not be within a certain district to each other in order to avoid excessive cluster or density of services. (see Bill 8917 by Congressman Espaillat and proposed revision to Bill A9571 by Inez Dickens)

3) Improve data transparency and thus accountability:

Data regarding program capacities, the treatment capacity required per district, program performance indicators, etc. should be easily and openly available to communities with drug treatment and harm reduction programs. Currently, this data is only partially available through FOIL requests (see our proposed New York State Bill proposal here) (see our data obtained through FOIL requests)

4) Improve accountability of facilities’ community health impact:

Drug treatment and harm reduction programs should be assessed during every contract renewal, on their impact on nearby businesses, public transit sites, street cleanliness, and public safety should be grounds for contract renewal or non-renewal. Adequate funding should be provided to perform such assessment. (see Bill 8917 by Congressman Espaillat )

5) All the above requests applies to safe injection site:

If the government deem it necessary to sanction safe injection sites, the current propose laws s603 and a224 inadequately addressed any of the points above. (See Greater Harlem’s response to the proposed bill here.)

For reference, here are the links to NYC charter (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene & its community advisory board) & NY State law (OMH Supportive housing 14.VIII.599, Drug Treatment).

Decades of incompetency and discriminatory behavior led to oversaturation in Harlem. Below are some of our previous posts about our advocacy efforts to elected officials and government agencies. To see the letters we authored to them, click here

Below are some previous blog posts regarding our advocacy efforts: