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Our Advocacy

Our ask is simple.

In order to achieve effective treatment programs in healthy commonities, The Greater Harlem Coalition advocates for small-scale, community-health-focused addiction treatment programs to be located in all New York neighborhoods.

The six requests (below) identify key social justice-focused policy initiatives that will help achieve a Harlem that thrives:

1) Governance in social service siting:

A combined NY State and City committee with decision-making power should be established to perform a holistic review of the distribution of both drug treatment and harm reduction programs. The goal of this review should be to ensure there is an equitable distribution of programs with adequate capacity in all New York neighborhoods and to deconcentrate the clustering of programs currently found in communities like Harlem and East Harlem. This might require expanding the scope of Certification of Needs (CON), including a recent revision

2) Locational strategy / Density control: 

New drug treatment and harm reduction programs should not be located within a certain distance of each other nor should they be proximate to schools. The density of drug treatment and harm reduction facilities in each district should be proportionate to the number of residents enrolled in New York drug treatment programs. Density should be based on objective quantifiable measures and local residents should not include residents of shelters who are also often disproportionately sited in communities of color. (see Bill 8917 by Congressman Espaillat)

3) Improve data transparency and thus accountability:

 Data regarding programs, who is served, performance indicators of success, etc. should be easily and openly available to communities with drug treatment and harm reduction programs. (see New York State Bill proposal here)

4) Improve accountability of facilities’ community health impact:

Drug treatment and harm reduction programs should be assessed during every contract renewal, on nearby street conditions. The impact on nearby businesses, public transit sites, street cleanliness, and public safety should be grounds for contract renewal or non-renewal.

5) Incentives to end racial disparities in drug treatment: 

License renewal decisions (for drug treatment programs) should consider whether racially biased treatment modalities are evident or have been eliminated.

6) OASAS accountability:  

The budget for OASAS must be contingent on effectively fulfilling the social justice policy goals stated above.

7) 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.

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