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!

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

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 below to register and get more info.

We will end this with a quote from MLK:

The flyer of our Jan 14th Town Hall

A More Fair and Just NYC in 2021 – Help Us

Welcome 2021! It is election year for New York City. The pandemic further exposed inequities in New York City. So join GHC in 2021 to call for change.

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? Join here

Look forward to 2021:

Lawyers, fund raisers, community organizers, website managers, we need your help! Raise your hand:

  • 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.
  • Legal advisor: Help with our strategy to challenge government agency’s approval of drug treatment capacities and adult homeless shelters located in Harlem
  • 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.


GHC Petitioned Successfully Against a New Drug Treatment Center in East Harlem and presented data to CB11

In May, 2020, we presented in CB11 (East Harlem). See an excerpt of CB11 meeting minutes, and full minutes here

Shawn Hill – Harlem Neighborhood Block Association (10 minutes)
i. Concentration/ Saturation of treatment facilities in East Harlem. Shawn Hill gave
a presentation on the medical redlining occurring within northern Manhattan
and in East Harlem. Please see attached report. His data driven report left many
committee members with outstanding policy questions for OASAS. Several
members were left perplexed as to why so many methadone and “counseling”
centers are concentrated in East Harlem when many centers service people
from outside the community. The committee discussed how landlords often will
take a guaranteed rent over community concerns. Further questions were
raised with the ratios of those receiving services in a community they work in
versus a community they live in. Mr. Hill expressed that those data points are
not available but based on the available data, chances are that people are
receiving services closer to where they work than where they live. Committee
members were dismayed to see the disparity of distribution. A significant area
of interest was the 125th Street corridor and the overall impact to businesses
and surrounding streets and their residents.

c. Lee Weiss – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Elev8 Wellness Center of New York
i. New outpatient counseling center in the Lee Building on 125th Street
Mr. Weiss gave a presentation for a new center to be located in East Harlem.
With services provided in central Harlem and other areas of northern
Manhattan, the Bronx and elsewhere, they desired to expand this counseling
center believing it would be of service to East Harlem. Several committee
members expressed their concerns over yet another center coming to our
community. Many of the questions revolved around saturation and “the need”
for expansion. Mr. Weiss finally expressed that if the community does not desire
Elev8 to expand in this district, he would respect that request and withdraw
pursuing a letter.
UPDATE: Subsequent to our meeting, Mr. Weiss has withdrawn his request.

Black Lives Matter and The Greater Harlem Coalition

Black Lives Matter. 

The Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC) stands behind and supports Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the many other groups in New York and beyond who are fighting for an end to systemic racism and police violence. 

In addition, the GHC joins with these organizations in condemning the police murder (lynching) of George Floyd. We also support the conversation and policy changes that George Floyd’s tragic death has sparked – a powerful international, national and local discussion centered on the issues of racism, employment, inequality, housing, lending practices, health care, policies that perpetuate police violence, and more.  (To read more about the history of Harlem’s fight against systemic racism and police violence, click here.

The Greater Harlem Coalition is a diverse alliance of over 70 local businesses, block associations, and faith-based organizations, comprising over 4,000 Harlem and East Harlem members. From the founding of the GHC, Black lives and justice for Black and Brown New Yorkers have been our central concern.  Our lens on this complex issue has been to address the historic and ongoing Medical Redlining of our community.  We have argued repeatedly that this practice of oversaturating communities like Harlem with unmonitored drug treatment programs is an expression of systemic racism.  These programs are frequently the ones that wealthier and more privileged communities have opposed and rejected, leaving Harlem and East Harlem destabilized and oversaturated by programs that cater largely to non-Harlem residents.    

Many members of the GHC work across other community organizations.   As demonstrated by conversations on our listserv, many of us have taken action and are having critical conversations to advance the cause of racial justice.  The Greater Harlem Coalition believes it is every member’s responsibility to engage in the work required to be actively anti-racist.  We believe that change is made possible by listening to our community partners, striving for consensus, and actively working together to achieve change. 

Thank you to every member of The Greater Harlem Coalition, to community leaders/activists who are leading this fight, and to the GHC member organizations who are working to build a racially equitable community and city.

  • The Greater Harlem Coalition

East Harlem Burdened By More Than Its Fair-Share

East Harlem (in red, below) hosts a disproportionate number of OASAS-licensed Opioid Treatment Programs, that wealthier zip codes have rejected. This graph clearly illustrates that the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports applies discriminatory medical redlining, forcing low-income communities of color to bear more than their fair share of programs.

OASAS Licensed Opioid Treatment Program Capacity Totals (by Zip Code)

Staten Island v Harlem (Part 2)

In 2018 Staten Island had 50% more premature drug-related deaths than Harlem, yet Harlem has 6 times the Opioid Treatment Program capacity. As a result, many Staten Islanders have to travel to other boroughs (and to Harlem, for example) for help in their struggle with addiction.

OASAS Licensed Opioid Treatment Program Capacity – 2018

Install Security Cameras – Help the police help us

At a recent meeting with police officers who patrol 124th Street, a question was asked about what tool they needed the most in their fight against drug dealing and quality of life issues.  The unequivocal response from the police officers in the room was security cameras.

A camera system for your building or home is a series of compromises and a complex one at that.  First of all, We would stress that you have to focus on the quality of the camera, as expressed in megapixels.  There is no point in buying and installing a system that doesn’t have the resolution to tell the police, and then convince a jury, who the perpetrator is.  While I currently have a system with 6, 3 MP (3 megapixels or 3,000 pixels) cameras, if I was buying today, We would aim for a 5 MP camera system or above.

Once you set a camera standard (5MP+ cameras…), then the issue is really how to wire the setup.  Although a wireless setup sounds good, stay clear from this kind of system.  Wireless cameras still need wires (for power) or batteries (which you’ll go through at an alarming rate and need to get up on a ladder to change…).  All a wireless camera will give you is a wireless data transfer to the DVR that records your footage for review or preservation.  But, being wireless, you’ll run into problems as the signal tries to get through thick Harlem brownstone/apartment walls.  And, in the end, the data transfer is often so weak compared to a wired connection that you’ll be stuck with low-resolution cameras and poor quality recordings.

We would recommend looking for a ‘Power over Ethernet’ camera system (PoE).  This means that both the power sent to the camera and the data from the camera to the DVR, are sent by the same cable (typically called an ethernet cable).  That means that you (or the installer) just has to get one wire to each camera from the DVR, and not worry about the proximity of the closest electrical power source (note that the cameras use LED’s to light up the scene at night time, and while you will only get black/white images at night, at least you’ll get images).

We would recommend a ‘package’ like the ones you see here that mostly come with 2 TB DVRs.  (The DVRs are the hard drives that store the footage for you.  You’ll usually need to buy your own monitor to view the footage.  A DVR with 2 TB (2 terabytes) will roughly give you 1 or 2 weeks of footage that you can review (newer footage overwrites the oldest, so you have to export/save anything of value you want to preserve to a USB drive).

Note that anyone who can do electrical work, can easily put up a camera system, and no permits are required.  Also, if you want to get super ‘Mission Impossible’ a movable/zoomable camera setup, this will require a separate power source to run the motors that drive these cameras and thus cost significantly more.

Lastly, we want to emphasize that there is no point mounting your cameras up high and getting great footage of criminals’ headgear.  You need to think about ways to get footage from as close to eye-level as you can.  There is, of course, the issue of this then being vandalized, but a high camera will only tell you that ‘someone’ came to your building, but not give the authorities enough information to find that person, let alone convict someone in a court of law.

If we were starting today, we might go with something like this:


or, if we wanted a more budget-friendly system: