Greater Harlem Coalition’s response to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement establishing supervised injection sites in East Harlem and Washington Heights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 1, 2021

Contact: Syderia Asberry-Chresfield, 917-674-3313, syderia@aol.com

It is not for Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC) to comment on which form of harm reduction programs in Harlem best help patients with substance dependency recover, be it methadone clinics, needle exchanges, or supervised injection sites.

What is outrageous to GHC is that the government is doubling down on its inequitable history of over-concentrating drug treatment and harm reduction programs in Harlem despite years of community objections. The decades-long practice of placing socially burdensome municipal services in this black and brown neighborhood has led to nearly 20% of the city’s drug treatment facilities being located in East and Central Harlem, a small district with only 3.5% of NYC’s population. 

This concentration has drawn drug dealers to the district, creating a range of quality-of-life issues. Adding a supervised injection site in Harlem, and not other districts, will only exacerbate the problem. Harlem residents, our children and our minority-owned small businesses will again bear the costs that come with excessive concentration of these programs.  At the core, disproportionately packing Harlem with these programs constitutes a violation of our children and families’ civil rights to a healthful living environment. Before considering opening a supervised injection site as a solution of the quality of life issues in Harlem, the city and the state must first reduce the excessive concentration of harm reduction programs in Harlem and add high quality drug treatment programs in other parts of New York that have been defunded by the previous New York Governor.

To be clear, GHC supports small scale, effective harm reduction programs located throughout all New York City neighborhoods. However, we strongly object to continually packing these facilities into Harlem as in reality addiction transcends race, class, and geography. 

In New York City, there are numerous other districts with similar or higher overdose rates, but have fewer such programs. There are several districts with only slightly lower overdose rates, but have no drug treatment programs at all. Data obtained through FOIL has shown that although Manhattan has about 20% of the city’s population, 40% of the city’s drug treatment capacity certified by OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Support) is located in Manhattan, and half of that is in East and Central Harlem. To see the underlying data, refer to the letter sent to OASAS here.

One can only explain this continuous pattern of unfair distribution of municipal facilities as a perpetuation of the systemic racism that many local, state and national politicians purport to be fighting.  

Lastly, the siting of the Nation’s first formal supervised injection site without public consultation with Harlem’s residents is an in-your-face demonstration of how the political establishment in New York City continues to ignore the opinions of communities of color for the benefit of wealthier and often whiter neighborhoods. (see letter from community board 11)

The Greater Harlem Coalition, representing 120+ local Harlem organizations, requests that the mayor and the governor reduce the capacity of drug treatment programs in Harlem in a way that is consistent with the fair share principle as drafted by the city council in 2017. The redistribution would greatly help improve the quality of life issues in Harlem and improve accessibility of healthcare for all patients in New York City.

We call on our elected officials to join us in asking the mayor and the governor to take immediate actions.

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The Greater Harlem Coalition is comprised of the following tenant groups, block associations,  faith-based organizations, schools, small businesses, cultural institutions, and not-for-profits in Harlem & East Harlem. Visit us at greaterharlem.nyc and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

BLOCK ASSOCIATIONS 

100 Block Association of West 118th Street 100-168 West 121st Street Resident Block  Association 
118 Street Block Association 
120th Street Block Association 
124 East 117th Street Tenants Association  
128th Street Block Association 
1775 Houses Tenants Association 97-98 Lexington & Park Ave. Neighbors A. Philip Randolph Square Neighborhood Alliance 
A.K. Houses Tenants Association 
Dorrence Brooks Property Owners & Residents Association 
LenoxFive 127th Street Block Association 
Mirada Home Owners Association
Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association 
Neighbors United of West 132nd Street  Block Association 
New 123rd Street Block Association (Lenox  - 7th) 
Sugar Hill Concerned Neighbors Group 
West 119th Block Association 
West 121st Street Block Association 
West Graham Court Residents Council 
Hamilton Terrace Block Association 
Harlem Neighborhood Block Association 
Lenox to 5th 124th Street Block Association
126th Street Block Association West 130th Street Homeowners Association West 132nd Street Block Association West 135th Street Block Association West 136th Street Block Association
The Melrose Committee for Change 
Harlem East Block Association 
Madison Avenue HDFC 
181 East 119th Street Tenants Association 
Central Park North Block Association

SMALL BUSINESSES 
 
314 - Pizza, Pasta & Wine Bar 
Chaiwali 
Chocolat Restaurant & Bar 
Columbus Distributors 
Compass Realty 
DR3J Consultants 
Edward Jones 
Elaine Perry Associates 
Eye Cycle 
Freeland Liqour 
Gastiaburo + Stella Real Estate 
Ginjan Cafe 
Hakimian Organization 
Halstead Manhattan 
Harlem Lofts 
Harlem Properties Inc. 
Harlem Shake 
Harlem Wine Gallery 
HarlemHome 
HarlemHoopz 
Il Cafe Latte 1 
Il Cafe Latte 2 
Indian Summer Harlem 
Jacqueline Allmond Cuisine INC Le Petit Parisien 
Lido 
Malcolm Pharmacy 
Paris Blues Jazz Club 
R. Kenyatta Punter and Associates Rubys Vintage 
SottoCasa Pizzeria 
T.H.E. Works 
Upholstery Lab 
Uptown Townhouse 
Valeries Signature Salon 
Wynn Optics 
USA Deli & Grocery 
MoHo Dance 
Harlem American 
Virgo Hardware 
Clay 
Asberry and Associates, LLC 
D and D Enterprise 
CentralCasting Solutions LLC 
Pativity, LLC 
Covington Realty Services 
Super Nice Coffee and Bakery 
Gold Appraisal 
Carthage Advisors 
Experience Harlem 
L.A. Sweets NY 
Nouvelle Home Improvements 
Space Management Design 
H M Art And Home Decor 
The Monkey Cup 
  
NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS 
Ask Ascend Virtual Assistance 
Advocates 4 The Community 
ATAPE Group, LLC 
CIVITAS 
Ephesus SDA Church 
Friendly Hands Ministry 
Friends of the Harriett Tubman Monument Future Giants Organization 
Greater Calvary Baptist Church 
Harlem Arts Foundation 
Harlem Business Alliance 
Harlem Lacrosse 
Harlem Park to Park 
MXB United 
New York Council for Housing Development  Fund Companies, Inc. 
Open Hands Legal Services 
Progressives Educating New Yorkers, Inc. Sayers and Doers 
Silicon Harlem 
Union Settlement House 
United New Church of Christ 
Uptown Democratic Club 
StreetSquash 
Silent Procession Nyc4pr 
AAPI for Change 
Harlem Link Charter School 

Op-Ed Published on worsening conditions in Harlem

Greater Harlem Coalition has published this Op-Ed on New York Daily News describing the impact of excessive number of methadone clinics in Harlem. Please help forward to your neighbors and elected officials to raise awareness

Although the opioid epidemic led to a 200% increase in overdose deaths in New York State from 2010-17, even before the sharp rise last year during the COVID pandemic, medical strategies to address Substance Use Disorder (SUD) haven’t substantially changed in decades. In New York City, the state Department of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) relies on approximately 70 Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) that primarily dispense methadone.

National Institutes of Health research shows that opioid treatment is most successful when it is available locally, but OASAS data on the distribution and attendance of treatment programs in New York City show a systemic overconcentration of OTPs in majority Black and Brown neighborhoods. Harlem is particularly oversaturated, with eight OTPs in a five-block radius of 125th St. and Park Ave. More than 75% of patients being treated in Harlem live elsewhere and commute into the neighborhood from elsewhere in the city, and even from Long Island and Upstate New York. Since successful treatment negatively correlates with distance from a treatment site, OASAS’s decision to concentrate treatment centers in Harlem is clearly not based on patient welfare.

Profit margins, instead, seems to be the major factor that has led to Harlem becoming the city’s “methadone hub,” primarily through three OTP providers: Mount Sinai (which absorbed Beth Israel’s many OTPs during their merger), Kaleidoscope and START, who benefit from Harlem’s relatively inexpensive real estate. And given the economic and political advantages that accrue from expanding an existing facility, OTP capacity in Harlem has continued to increase over the years, leading social services to refer more patients to Harlem, leading to more increases, and so on, with full approval from OASAS.

This hyper-concentration of drug treatment resources in Harlem unfairly burdens the patients who have to travel up to six days a week to get their medication. It also burdens area residents and businesses. Along much of 125th St., used needles lie in gutters and on the sidewalks; people nod out and use doorways as toilets. Drug dealers operate openly, taking advantage of this concentration of vulnerable patients. Small businesses suffer from a lack of foot traffic and high rates of shoplifting. Restaurants note that customers often report being uncomfortable and do not return. New businesses are reluctant to open in the neighborhood when they see the street drug dealing and use.

And Mount Sinai is now planning to relocate its CARES program, an education program for at-risk kids (with mental and addiction issues), from Morningside Heights into the middle of this methadone hub — another decision that seems unlikely to benefit the clients.

Some believe that this kind of oversaturation is part of Harlem’s identity. In reality, the neighborhood’s history of compassion for people who are working through difficulties is being exploited. OASAS and Mount Sinai’s relentless concentration of treatment facilities in this neighborhood of color is simply medical redlining. Wealthier and frequently whiter communities are rarely asked to shoulder their fair share of vulnerable OTP patients.

It’s past time that this problem be addressed. While the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act currently under consideration at the federal level would increase Medicaid reimbursement for helping those struggling with drug abuse and make alternative forms of treatment more readily available, it is expected to do little to alleviate Harlem’s burden unless more direct actions are taken.

New York State must take responsibility for the oversaturation and adopt measures to address it without further delay.

First, to allow a systematic assessment of whether treatment programs are being fairly situated, OASAS should publish data on addiction and overdose rates, capacities, services, locations of drug treatment centers in each district, and audit reports and verified complaints should be made publicly and easily available.

Then, the state should move OTPs that exceed the demonstrable need of the neighborhood into other, less serviced, neighborhoods in each renewal cycle. When homeless shelters or environmental hazards are unfairly clustered in relatively poor and powerless parts of the city, we call it racism.

Input from community organizations, local government officials and government agents such as police and social workers regarding the impact of OTPs on their neighborhoods should also be made public and included when considering license renewal.

And more weight in OTP placement decisions should be given to New York City officials. The mayor’s office and the City Council, in turn, must commit to redressing this inequity.

If the officials of New York State and New York City are committed to rooting out systemic racism, they must also commit to distributing social services equitably. No community should be asked to do more than its fair share — or allowed to do less — regardless of its economic, political or racial make-up. We should have tremendous compassion for those struggling with drug addiction, and part of that compassion should be ensuring that services designed to help them are close to their homes.

Hill and Asberry-Chresfield are founders of The Greater Harlem Coalition, a grassroots organization focused on improving quality of life.

Research on Homeless Shelters

Given so much push back on placement of homeless shelters, the latest being on Upper West Side and West Harlem, we thought some facts and research material would be helpful.

There are about 60,000 individuals who do not have a permanent home in NYC. The majority of these are families who typically enter shelter when they can no longer afford to pay rent due to job loss or other hardship.

Times are tough. We encourage all districts to help take care of their own residents who fall into hard times. Unfortunately, “most homeless families are not sheltered in the communities they come from.” Currently, only about 50% of children are placed in shelters in areas where they have been going to school. In fact, there are 12 districts in NYC with no family shelters at all.

Regarding single homeless adults, “Research shows that, compared to homeless families, homeless single adults have much higher rates of serious mental illness, addiction disorders, and other severe health problems.” These adults should be placed in small settings fairly distributed in areas where the individual used to reside, and with adequate social services to support them. 

Times are tough. Let’s all help each other while keeping fair share and equity in mind. We need to strike a delicate balance for the sake of our beloved NYC. click here to see a list of homeless shelters and methadone clinics in Harlem

See these 2 links for more info and our quotes: https://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/basic-facts-about-homelessness-new-york-city/
https://www.icphusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Shelter-DynamicsFinal07819.pdf

The graphic is plotted based on Shelter Score Card data: “https://fordham.carto.com/u/shill18/builder/8f51c8fb-6910-48d3-ae9d-35ffadfed443/embed”

SHELTER AND HOMELESS STATISTICS and building plan

  • 2021: Shelters purchased by the city to end reliance on cluster sites (CityLimits)
  • 2017: Mayor’s building plan for shelters (goodnewsnetwork)
  • 2016-2019: NYC: In 12 years, NYC homeless population surged 40% from 2011. The City counted almost 4000 people sleeping on the street and there is a 50-60,000 homeless population. Mayor launched turn the tide campaign to set up 130 shelters in the city – (Daily Mail Online, nydailynews.com, Curbed NY)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON nimby’s attepts TO PUSH BACK ON PLACEMENT OF HOMELESS SHELTERS

  • 2021 Jan: West Harlem pushes back on homeless shelter on 145th st. (Patch)
  • 2020 Dec: NYC Districts pushes back on housing affordable housing planned by Mayor – (nytimes.com)
  • 2020 Dec: NYC Upper West Side: The residents in Upper West Side Lucerne homeless shelter filed a law suit on decision to relocate them – (nydailynews.com)
  • 2020 Nov: NYC Downtown: Downtown residents filed a law suit against movement of homeless shelter to downtown hotel – (nydailynews.com)
  • 2019 Nov: NYC Ozone Park: 500 residents pushed back on new homeless shelter. 1 man went on hunger strike! – (citylimits.org)
  • 2018 Jul: NYC Midtown: Billionaires Row group sues city over homeless shelter plan – (Nydailynews.com, Fox News)
  • 2016: Central Harlem at 136th Street pushed back on another homeless shelter (Medium.com)

advocacy for safety issues in adult only shelters in nyc and harlem

  • 2012: NYC Harlem: Wards Island Homeless population of 1000 has one bus M35 and the only drop off point is… 125 street and Lexington. The City Limits claimed many of these men are ex convicts and sex offenders – (citylimits.org)
  • 2019 Sept: NYC Harlem Wards Island: Wards Island Homeless Shelter managed by Andrew Cuomo’s sister gets new 4 year renewal worth 45 million despite 22 code citation- (THE CITY)
  • 2019 Dec: Description of the medical challenges faced by residents in homeless shelters in New York City – (The New York Medical Journal)
  • 2017: 44 year old man stabbed to death in Central Harlem’s shelter by BRC (CBS news)
  • 2016: To mask the unsafe conditions in shelters, the city redefined how incidents are tracked in the system (NY Daily News)
  • 2016: 62 year old man stabbed to death in East Harlem’s shelter boulevard for single homeless men with mental issues (NBC)

Stop Mt. Sinai’s CARES program from moving at risk youth to a location rife with drug-trading activities. Stop this madness!

Despite tremendous push back from community members, Mount Sinai has announced it will relocate the 60 or so at-risk youth, ages 13-21, in its CARES program from their current Morningside Heights location to their new facility at 160 W 124th Street in Central Harlem as part of a “restructuring” effort. 

We appreciate such schools to help these vulnerable children, however, what is very concerning is that this new location, is a well-known drug nexus!!

As you see in our data map above, CARES’s current neighborhood has little drug-trading activity. The new location is rife with drug-trading activity — as indicated by the density of drug-related arrests — partly driven by its proximity to 3 methadone clinics as well as a safe-injection site (aka needle exchange site) maintained by Harlem United.

According to Mount Sinai, students in the CARES program are youths with “early run-ins with the police… and/or legal problems…” and “severe emotional problems and school truancy.” Common sense would dictate that these students needs to be placed as far away from drug dealers as possible. 

Who in their right mind would think placing these at-risk youths in this drug nexus is a good idea? 

Mount Sinai seems to be more concerned about about their bottom line than about the students’ welfare. To read more about our grievances with Mount Sinai, see here.

How can you help?

Tell Mount Sinai to STOP THE MOVE! These particularly vulnerable teenagers will encounter the open street drug dealing and usage on a daily basis.

For the sake of these children, tell Richard A. Friedman and James S. Tisch the co-chairmen of Mount Sinai’s Board of Trustee to STOP THE MOVE!!! Mr. Friedman is the Chairman of Merchant Banking at Goldman Sachs and Mr. Tisch is the CEO of Loews Corporation, which oversees the Loews Hotel chain. These large companies don’t like seeing negative press.

To help this cause, we recommend you to set up a twitter account and write something on the twitter accounts of Goldman Sachs and Loews Hotel. On their new posts, you can either leave a remark or quote tweet the post to your followers to raise awareness. Many of their millions of followers, including people from the media, will see your remarks.

Looking Back at Our Jan 14 2021 Town Hall

In Jan 14 2021, over 200 attendees turned out on Zoom to listen to updates on crucial quality of life concerns in Harlem, as well as Greater Harlem Coalition’s accomplishments in 2020, and our strategy for 2021. Thank you all of you for showing up in such powerful numbers.

Not surprisingly, emotions in the meeting ran high as  we listened to Mount Sinai obfuscate and filibuster, especially around the issue of their patients loitering after receiving treatment at Mount Sinai’s 132 W 125 Street and 103 E 125 Street methadone facilities. As a reminder, 40% of Harlem’s methadone dispensing capabilities come from Mount Sinai|Beth Israel.

With over 200 questions for Mount Sinai in the chat, the audience showed Mount Sinai that Harlem and East Harlem are watching, and that we are concerned about the community impact of their new Mount Sinai Ambulatory Care Center at 158 W 124th Street, which notably includes the  CARES program.  GHC members are also demanding  that Mount Sinai address and reduce the unacceptable impact that the methadone programs on 125th Street have on residents, our children, and local businesses.

Updates on the 158 West 124th Street Facility and CARES program from Mount Sinai

In spite of Mount Sinai’s less than forthright engagement with the community, It’s important to note that that we learned of one significant win:

Mount Sinai changed their minds about putting addiction services in their new 124th Street building. 

While this does not square with their insistence that CARES (a program for high school students with behavioral health and substance abuse issues) will also be located in this new facility, we are celebrating Mount Sinai’s reversal after two and a half years of protesting and organizing.  Although, this is not the complete abandonment we want, it is a victory to be celebrated nonetheless!

Although Mount Sanai has not completely abandoned the new 124th Street facility, as we wish them to, this is a victory to be celebrated, nonetheless!

Updates on Existing Facilities on 132 W 125 Street and 103 E 125 Street

As for the issue of loitering in the 2 large existing facilities, Mount Sinai informed us that they have contracted a new , more reputable security firm and will staff their new building with retired NYPD sergeants.  Mount Sinai will also be installing additional security measures  inside the buildings, such as metal detectors and security cameras. 

To our surprise, Mount Sinai pointedly noted that they are only responsible for security inside their building. We wonder: if Mount Sinai believes that such intensive security measures are required to protect their own personnel from their patients, where does this leave the local businesses and residents who live and work near these facilities? 

If Mount Sinai believes they are not responsible for mitigating their negative impact in the vicinity, who is protecting the local population??? 

Not government agencies, as OASAS has already stated that this is not their problem. Not the police, as they are overstretched and believe OASAS to be the root cause of the problem. This game of hot potato being played with our safety is extremely disturbing to say the least. We urge Governor Cuomo to address this issue.

Update on 160 W 124 Street Facility CARES Program for At-risk Youth

We are highly disappointed to hear that Mount Sinai insists on moving CARES from its Morningside Heights location at 1111 Amsterdam Avenue to 160 W 124th Street. CARES — Comprehensive Adolescent Rehabilitation and Education Services is Mount Sinai/St. Luke’s program for high school students ages 13 through 21 with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.  

CARES program current location

To be clear, Mount Sinai is moving at-risk youth to one of Manhattan’s most blatant open-air illegal drug marketplaces and half a block from one of NYC’s largest methadone treatment clinics. How is this a good idea???

Would Mount Sinai board members send their children to school in this location?  It is hard to see any pedagogical motive for this move.  Rather the relocation  appears to be soley for the benefit of the hospital’s profit maximization.

We will Not Stop Here

Many of you participated in the very active chat with more than 200 questions and comments for Mount Sinai.  A copy of this chat will be sent to the Mount Sinai participants to give them the opportunity to respond.

If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to Brad Beckstrom the public relations person who led the Mount Sinai presentation and let us know what response you get (or don’t) so we can encourage follow-up and accountability: brad.beckstrom@mssm.edu. For questions related to the CARES program, contact the program director: shilpa.taufique@mountsinai.org 

To see some sample of the > 200 questions and comments in the chat:

New Facility on 158 West 124 Street

  • Why was this location chosen?
  • Do you have a community advisory board/committee?
  • I am curious to hear how this facility was initially approved. Was it a city decision? What is Mt Sinai’s strategy for expansion in the community, and has it already been approved? Thank you.
  • What is the security plans for outside the building and surrounding areas?
  • Can you please speak to the ways in which you plan to make the facility culturally acceptable to this key community, while maintaining your security personnel on site
  • What assurance is there that medication assisted treatment (MAT) patients will not eventually be supported at this location?
  • What percentage of your patients are from areas outside of Harlem?
  • Can you tell us the breakdown as far as what percentage of patients will be HIV vs behavioral health care?
  • You say there will be no drug treatment, service for other concerns; the background history of these participants is DRUG USE; thereby some form of drug treatment will be carried out.

CARES program:

  • Are you not concerned that you are bringing vulnerable people who may have addiction issues into an already over-saturated drug clinic area, with so much illegal drug dealing?
  • St. Lukes/Columbia Univ area seems to get a different level of attention than Central Harlem

Existing Facilities on 132 W 125 Street and 103 E 125 Street

Quality of life

  • Do any of you panelists live on a street with three drug treatment centers?
  • If you are such a good neighbor, why are you over saturating our community when you could locate these substance clinics in upper east side?
  • The residents here are sick and tired of the dope addicts and drug dealers your enterprises have brought to our neighborhood. 123rd 124th streets on MXB.  We had to create a block association because of the influence of your dope clinics. I personally want you out of here but I am willing to listen….every single day they shooting a heroin on my block!! this doesn’t help my community
  • Dope addicts and drug dealers have overrun our neighborhood. I have been calling the police, taking pictures, putting my family’s lives in danger, walking through throngs of dope addicts for over two years mostly, but this has been going on for over a decade.

Security

  • I agree that [under the new plan,] you seem to have great security in your facilities, but the you’re causing serious problems for the rest of the neighborhood since your jurisdiction is only your property line.
  • Sounds like you have great security in your facilities, but the you’re causing serious problems for us. Because your facilities attract all these folks that become an easy target for drug dealers and since they cannot linger around your facility they end up in front of our cafe and wreck havoc. I spend all day every single day trying to move high out of their minds people, spitting, pissing, and throwing garbage all over the place. What do you say or do about that?
  • What will be the ratio of security staff to patients and how will the clinic prevent the clients from congregating in large groups on the block
  • How many blocks around your facility will your security firm cover? If you cannot cover more than your perimeter, then you must reduce methadone capacity in Harlem

Update on the New 158 W 124th St Mt Sinai Facility

Happy Dr. King Day! GHC is pleased to report that Mt Sinai will not include a methadone clinic in the new 158 W 124th Street facility. It is a SIGNIFICANT WIN for us. However, #Harlem remains oversaturated and we won’t stop fighting for Harlem!

Happy Dr King Day!

Last Thursday, Jan 14th 2021, the Coalition and our allies, more than 200 of us, turned out on Zoom to listen to Mount Sinai obfuscate and filibuster especially, around the issue of their patients loitering after receiving treatment. In spite of Mount Sinai’s less than forthright engagement with the community,

it’s important to note that that we learned of one significant win: they changed their minds about putting addiction services in their new 158 W 124th Street building. 

While this does not square with their insistence that CARES (a program for high school students with behavioral health and substance abuse issues) will also be located in this new facility, we are celebrating Mount Sinai’s reversal after two and a half years of protesting and organizing.  Although, this is not the complete abandonment we want, it is a victory to be celebrated nonetheless!

Read a more detailed recap of the discussion in the Town Hall here and a recording of the meeting here.

We will not stop here.

Next, we will take our momentum on to the Manhattan District Attorney Candidate Forum (DA Forum) on Thursday, February 4th , 7 PM.

Join our next event, the Manhattan DA Forum on February 4th

The theme of the forum is Harlem’s Fair Share. Click on the flyer above to register and get more info.

We will end this with a quote from MLK:

Help us Help Harlem

Greater Harlem Coalition has accomplished a lot in 2020. But much remains to be done. Would you volunteer to fight for better quality of life in Harlem?

All backgrounds are welcome. We are especially seeking help from those with experience in law, social media, community coordination, and web development.

  • Legal advisor: Help with our strategy to challenge government agency’s approval of drug treatment capacities and adult homeless shelters located in Harlem
  • Election year strategist: Help with communications with public officials and election candidates. Help write related posts on social media and extract relevant info from media. Help develop strategies to influence the race for Manhattan DA, City Council, Senate in Harlem, NYC Mayor…etc.
  • Event coordinator: Help coordinate upcoming events and zoom meetings, e.g. district attorney forum, Harlem walk through with election candidates…,etc.
  • Harlem advocate: Work directly with our members, which are businesses, community organizations, and block associations, to increase their engagement. Help identify and escalate quality of life issues. Also, recruit new member organizations and raise funds when possible.  Liaisons will be assigned a region in Harlem, so pick a district you are passionate about
  • Social media outreach manager: Recruit new members on social media and develop social media strategy in general. Help create graphics for social media and help with fund raising
  • Website manager: Help with content management. Help improve the navigation and look and feel of the website. Programming or css experience not necessary but can be helpful. Help create graphics for social media

Look back of 2020:

Mayor visit with Council member Ayala
Letters of complaints from GHC and others prompted Mayor to examine the quality of life issues on 125th street

(read more)

Interview of our founders by CBS News

(read more)

Proximity of drug treatment facilities to schools in Harlem

(read more)

GHC member’s letter to drug treatment centers demanding safety

one of our members wrote a letter detailing safety and quality of life issues observed on the streets of Harlem associated with drug treatment clinics and asked CEOs of Harlem United, Mount Sinai, START, and Odyssey House for a concrete plan to mitigate these issues

As many others have done, one of our members wrote a letter to CEOs of Harlem United, Mount Sinai, START, and Odyssey House for a concrete plan to mitigate safety and quality of life issues observed on the streets of Harlem surrounding these drug treatment clinics.

This letter called out specific areas of concerns including Marcus Garvey Park and areas on 125th Street crossed with Lexington Avenue, Park Avenue, and Lenox Avenue.

The last paragraph of the letter particularly resonates with our shared sentiment:

Image extract of 2020 letter
Extract of the letter that asked for a plan from CEO of drug treatment clinics

How can you help? tell Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senator Brian Benjamin on Twitter to stop oversaturating Harlem with socially undesirable harm reduction services.

Download the entire letter here:

Patch: Results so far of Mayor’s Recent Visit to 125th Street

Thanks to concerns you have passionately made to our Mayor, elected officials have taken some actions to mitigate the unacceptable quality of life issues on 125th street and its vicinity.

(Update since this post below. Patch reported on Dec 29 that East Harlem 125th Street conditions have improved, but work remains)

Harlem neighbors,

Thanks to concerns you have passionately made to our Mayor, elected officials have taken some actions to mitigate the unacceptable quality of life issues on 125th Street and vicinity.

At the Community Board 11 meeting 3 days ago, NYC Council Member Diana Ayala’s aide updated us on the outcome of the Mayor’s 125th Street visit, as reported by Patch on Nov 10 this year.

  1. 125th street will be power washed everyday unless temperature drops below freezing point;
  2. Increased density of police officers plus homeless services agents patrolling the 125th Street area. Subsequently, a few minor arrests were made related to sale of drugs such as K2;
  3. Requested lighting on the sidewalks to improve safety and discourage loitering around the former Pathmark site under construction on 125th between Third Ave. and Lexington;
  4. NYC Council member Diana Ayala created a working group to meet with relevant agencies to tackle this problem on an on-going basis. This group first met on Dec 15. OASAS (Office of Addiction Support and Services) graced us with an appearance at the meeting at the requests by Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly member Robert Rodriguez. Sadly, OASAS’ mere presence was considered a victory of sort due to its years of refusal to engage with Harlem officials and the GHC.

In the same meeting, Community Board 11 Vice Chair Xavier Santiago announced that at the next full board meeting on Jan. 26, CB11 intends to review and approve a resolution to formally request government agencies to reduce the number of harm reduction services in East Harlem. Please be sure to join us on Jan 26 at 8pm by registering here.

Your voices have made a significant impact in drawing officials’ attention and led to some tactical actions. Keep up the “good noise” to bring attention to the entrenched issue in Harlem and to call for a sustainable long term plan.

How can you make your noise heard?

  • Forward this post to your network
  • Like GHC on Facebook and twitter to get updates from us
  • Attend community board meetings
  • Become a community board member by submitting an application before Feb 1st here

Read some of the letters GHC and our members have sent to elected officials:

Protest at the Lucerne

You likely have heard how some residents of the Upper West Side raised a significant amount of money to fund a legal campaign to force homeless New Yorkers out of the Lucerne Hotel which the DHS had contracted to house homeless New Yorkers so they wouldn’t be at risk of COVID in congregant shelters

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2020-10-19-at-7.00.28-PM-1024x571.jpg

Today members of HNBA and The Greater Harlem Coalition attended a protest and press conference to note that our community – East Harlem and Harlem – has had more than its fair share of shelters for decades, and that all communities in New York need to take their fair share of shelter residents in this pandemic until permanent residences can be built/found.

As the 2017 NY City Council Report on Fair Share noted:

Residential Beds in East Harlem

Manhattan Community District 11, with 52 beds per 1,000 residents, or 4% of all residential facility beds in the city, embodies the legacy of decades of poor planning by and coordination between City and State governments and the failures of Fair Share. A low-income community of color, it is third in the city’s beds-to-population ration.


Manhattan CD11, composed primarily of East Harlem and Wards/Randall’s Island, is home to 1,082 chemical dependency treatment beds, 1,312 mental health treatment beds, and 2,691 shelter and transitional housing beds. The community hosts 5% of all Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter beds, 19% of all State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)-licensed beds, and 11% of all State Office of Mental Health (OMH)-licensed beds in the city.


Distributional equity does not only mean equity between community districts, though that is a reasonable unit of analysis, but also equity within community districts – as the Fair Share Criteria recognize in their directive to specifically consider facilities within one half-mile of a proposed facility as well as the total number of facilities within the community district. Yet Manhattan 11 fails this test of equity too, with one-third of the DHS, OASAS, and OMH beds in the district located between 116th St. and 126th St. between the East River and Park Avenue. If facilities were perfectly evenly distributed between the City’s 59 community districts, each district would host 1.7% of each facility type.

https://council.nyc.gov/news/2017/02/27/fairshare/