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:

Seminar/Talk on Redlining

Event on 3rd Dec 2020 where author of award-winning book “Redlined” gives a seminar

The Greater Harlem Coalition uses the term ‘redlining’ in context of how Harlem and East Harlem became the communities that they are today.

On Dec. 3rd, at 7:00 PM, The Washington and Chicago Map Societies will host Linda Gartz in a Zoom discussion: “How Federal Government Redlining Maps Segregated America.” 

She will discuss her award-winning book, “Redlined,” and her discovery of the redlining maps used by the federal government to exclude African-Americans from the middle-class dream of home ownership. Inspired by a trove of long-hidden family letters, diaries, photos, spanning the 20th Century, “Redlined” interweaves a riveting family story with the history of redlining. Linda will display digitized versions of original redlining maps, share photos, read short excerpts from “Redlined,” and speak about the lasting impact of redlining maps that segregated America. 

To join in, please RSVP John Docktor at washmap@gmail.com

Manhattan DA Candidates Forum: Harlem’s Fair Share

GHC held Manhattan DA Candidates Forum with focus on Harlem’s Fair Share of harm reduction services

Mark your calendars!

On Thursday, February 4th, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, all 9 candidates for the position of Manhattan DA will appear in The Greater Harlem Coalition’s first Manhattan DA Candidates Forum: Harlem’s Fair Share.

Our moderators will be WPIX 11‘s Magee Hickey and The National Action Network’s Michael A. Hardy, Esq.

Details on how to join the virtual forum and ask questions of the candidates is forthcoming here, at GreaterHarlem.nyc

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.

Illegal Drug Use, Treatment, and Bail Reform—Impact on the Greater Harlem Community

Thursday, February 27th – 7:00 PM, Ascension Presbyterian Church, 15 Mount Morris Park West @ 122nd St.
When will other, wealthier communities accept their Fair Share?

Thursday, February 27th – 7:00 PM
Ascension Presbyterian Church
15 Mount Morris Park West @ 122nd St

Presenters:

Mount Sinai Beth Israel

Dr. Lily Awad, Assistant Professor Psychiatry and Director of Addiction services, Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Teri Friedman, MS, CRC Director Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Opioid Treatment Program.

Will discuss Methadone and other modalities used to treat addiction, including dispensing protocol, outcome, and the use of the life saving drug Narcan.

Bridget G. Brennan, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York

Will speak to the impact the 2020 New York State Bail Reform is having (and will have) on the quality of life in Harlem and East Harlem.


mmpcia.org greaterharlem.nyc
Illegal Drug Use, Treatment, and Bail Reform MMPCIA and The Greater Harlem Coalition are working to locate opioid treatment programs in all New York communities and to end the practice of oversaturating Harlem and East Harlem.

GHC presented to Community Board 10 Central Harlem evidence of oversaturation

May 2020: See the meeting minutes here. Relevant excerpt included below:

Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC) – Shawn Hill
The Greater Harlem Coalition wants to hold city and state agencies
accountable for ensuring that the programs currently in Harlem enhance the
safety of our community as well as their patients. Mr. Hill reported on data
that was gathered from the Office of Addiction Services and Supports
(OASAS) that specifically corroborates the assertion that the Harlem
community is saturated with substance programs disproportionate to the
number of residents that are addicted. GHC reported that 6.9% of New
Yorkers addicted to opioids live in Harlem but the 19.1% of opioid clinics
are located in Harlem. GHC is also concerned that the large number of
providers and consumers helps support ongoing drug sales in the
community.
Board members indicated that an OASAS representative should be invited to
attend a Health & Human Services Committee meeting, and recommended
GHC to present at the general board meeting in January or February.

Protest against Mt. Sinai @ MBP Gale Brewer’s Harlem office

Come out and protest the over saturation of addiction services in greater Harlem!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
10:30am – 11:00am
Gale Brewer’s Office
Manhattan Borough President
431 West 125th Street

A reminder that we need you to join us at The Greater Harlem Coalition’s protest from 10:30-11:00 in front of Gale Brewer’s office at 431 West 125th Street, on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019.

At 11:00 the Borough President will host a meeting with local politicians, their staff, representatives from our Coalition, representatives from MMPCIA, and representatives from Mount Sinai.  We need you to join the 10:30 protest in front of the meeting location so all attendees have to pass by the community who will be most affected by Mount Sinai’s decision.

Please make every effort to attend.  Spread the word.  Our community is already oversaturated, and bringing in an additional 2,400 more mental health and substance abuse clients into the heart of Harlem will be devastating to the community.