OASAS’s Opioid Treatment Program Locations’ Concordance with Racist Redlining Maps

To see the presentation by Shawn Hill at the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Developing Evidence-Based Drug Policy Conference (October 14, 2021) see:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/14DyAjBrGWu8a9EoEP25N3B9J8gCtzsJUV2lYPjJ9Jyc/edit?usp=sharing

or watch the recording of the presentation:

Patch.com Reports on Harlem Oversaturation Pushback

Nick Garber posted: Drug Clinics Face Scrutiny In Harlem As Residents Push Back on Patch.com on March 24, 2021 and examined the “tax revolt” and a new community board resolution aim to stop the placement of drug treatment clinics in Harlem, citing safety concerns.

The influx of clients into Harlem each day has given rise to open drug use, discarded needles and filthy sidewalks, according to neighborhood advocates.

The piece examined Maria Granville’s Tax Revolt project and the work in CB11 to implement a moratorium on new substance use programs in East Harlem.

To read the full article, please see:

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/drug-clinics-face-scrutiny-harlem-residents-push-back

Harlem Battles an Increasing Rate of Opioid Injections

“I was born and raised in Harlem,” says Maria Granville, “and I have never seen anything this bad.” begins an article by Karina Tsui on medium: https://medium.com/labor-new-york/a-community-battles-with-increasing-rates-of-open-opioid-injections-9cea139c963c

Granville, a board member at Harlem’s Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association, which is dedicated to revitalizing and preserving the neighborhood, is referring to a spike in open drug injections in the neighborhood. “Heroin use was pervasive, but we did not see hypodermic needles on the streets,” she recalls. “We did not see human feces on the streets.”

Earlier this month, the 64-year-old joined over 200 Harlem residents and local business workers to protest what they say is an oversaturation of opioid treatment facilities in the area, which has given rise to open drug use and exchange on the streets. Residents held up signs reading “Harlem Is Not A Dumping Ground!” and “Needle-Free Streets!” as they paraded across 125th Street.

Columbia University Journalists Cover Harlem Protest

“We are fed up,” said Laurent Delly, a Harlem resident and active community member. “Something needs to be done because enough is enough. I can not keep walking down my street and seeing people shooting up left and right.”

Columbia University journalism student Lucy Keller covered community members who protested on October 8th that only 24 percent of patients in Harlem opioid treatment programs are Harlem residents. The other 76 percent of patients travel to Harlem from other parts of the city because many New York City zip codes have no available opioid treatment programs.

“The issue is not that there are clinics,” said Ali Diini, a Democratic candidate running for State Senate District 30 in Harlem. “The issue is that they are clustered here in Harlem.”

The article “Harlem Residents Protest to Demand Action For Safer Streets” can be read in its entirety here:

https://medium.com/columbiajourn/harlem-residents-protest-to-demand-action-for-safer-streets-4c41df6327a3

Harlem Residents Demand Fewer Drug Clinics, Improved Quality of Life

Columbia University’s Olivia McCourry covered the October 8th, 2021 protest by Harlem and East Harlem residents who are fed up with the oversaturation of substance abuse clinics in our community. A number of politicians came to voice their support for the de-concentration of OASAS licensed methadone mega-programs while the commander of the 28th Precinct promised a new task force to patrol the streets.

See:

http://theuptowner.org/harlem-residents-demand-fewer-drug-clinics-improved-quality-of-life/

Protest at Gracie Mansion

We had a fantastic turnout at Da Homeless Hero’s amazing rally and march at Gracie Mansion on Saturday, July 10th.  

Our message that congregant shelters, poorly run shelters, and inadequate supportive housing are the root causes of many issues in both Harlem and New York City, was forcefully delivered by Madlyn.  Additionally, her call to dismantle the horrific and horrifically expensive congregate shelter complex (and, in its place, to provide supportive housing instead), was clear and powerful.

In addition to thanking Madlyn for her powerful words, we want to acknowledge the incredible work and vision of Shams to pull this all together.  The rainbow of passionate protesters, the news media, and the numerous NYC political leaders, candidates, and future leaders who attended, all highlight his incredible organizing skills and the justness of his advocacy.

Lastly, we want to spotlight Eva who has worked tirelessly on supporting Shams, organizing GHC around these issues, and being a clarion voice for housing justice.  Eva has done an amazing job and her work for both GHC and CB11 is incredibly awe-inspiring.

So, thank you Madlyn, Shams, and Eva, and thank you to everyone else who came out, brought signs, chanted, marched, and is helping to spread the word. 

Together we marched and are marching for a better Harlem, a better New York, and justice for all.

Community Board 11 – Moratorium Vote Postponed

Community Board 11 has postponed their discussion/vote on a proposed moratorium on new or expanded addiction programs in East Harlem. This issue will not come before the board tomorrow evening, at their January 26th Full Board meeting.

Angel Mescain from CB11 writes:

This item is not on the agenda for our FB meeting tomorrow.
The matter has been referred back to the committee by the board chair.
If you could update your subscribers that would be helpful to avoid confusion.

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

NY Govt Wants to Hear Your Views on Pending Merger of Dept of Addiction Services and Dept of Mental Health

@NYOASAS and @NYSOHM are on a listening tour. Pls send your views to @NYGovCuomo! This is the chance to help build a more effective @NYOASAS and stop the issue of oversaturation
#greaterharlem #redliningharlem
#inequity
#oversaturation

There is an imminent plan at NY State to merge OASAS (Department of Addiction Services and Supports) and DOMH (Department of Mental Health). To this end, the departments are accepting public statements to understand best ways forward.

Let’s take advantage of this unique opportunity to help the government create a more effective Addiction Services for New York State. Submit a statement here

Or, you can just write to @NYSOASAS and @NYGovCuomo on twitter.

Tell them OASAS must do a better job in (1) preventing a neighborhood from being oversaturated with drug treatment facilities and (2) monitoring the impact of drug treatment centers on the nearby areas.

See more detail of the announcements below:

Governor Cuomo’s announcement of merger of DOMH and OASAS. Click on the image to learn more

Your statements don’t have to be lengthy or exhaustive.  A simple, heartfelt request from you is sufficient.  As we always say, they can’t read our minds.  We need to tell them what Harlem wants them to do.

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: