The New York State addiction agency – OASAS – has licensed decades of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) throughout New York.
Examining the locations of the 69 OTPs in New York City, shows a non-random spatial pattern that can be compared to neighborhoods that were racially redlined in 1938. When the two geographies (separated by over 80 years) are overlaid, a shocking correspondence is immediately seen. 96% of OASAS licensed OTPs in New York City, are located in residential areas that had been redlined as “Definitely Declining” or “Hazardous”.
[The map, above, shows 1938 redlined New York City with dots indicating the location of 21st century opioid treatment programs]
This classic example of conscious and unconscious structural racism – locating OTPs under the guise of care while actually mirroring an 80 year-old map’s racist community designations – has had tremendously negative consequences for Harlem and East Harlem. The intense density of large methadone mega centers attracts a daily influx of drug dealers who feed and profit on the concentration of methadone patients. The dealers in turn attract (non-patient) users, who commute into Harlem and East Harlem in order to purchase. The inevitable outcome is that dealing increases, using increases, and overdoses increase – all of which are then used by OASAS to justify increasing the capacity of programs in fragile communities.
To see the full presentation of this cycle, see the video below – a presentation at Rockefeller Institute of Government at the Developing Evidence-Based Drug Policy Conference 2021.
Last week The Greater Harlem Coalition published total homeless shelter resident totals by borough. This post raised a question, however, on whether or not the per capita distribution of homeless shelter residents would show a different pattern or not.
The answer is no. Staten Island, even on a per capita basis, does not even remotely pull its fair share in the homeless crisis.
Recently, after years of struggle, The Greater Harlem Coalition was able to obtain data on homeless shelter populations at the community board level. The Department of Homeless Services has fought us for years, and resisted numerous FOIL requests, simply to protect the mayor and to justify the status quo where homeless sheters are eggregeously unfairly apportioned.
A quick look at the data below (from January 31, 2020) almost implies that New York has 4 boroughs.
Note how Staten Island has a virtually insignificant number of homeless shelter residents.
As many political observers have noted, Staten Island scares the bejeezus out of elected officials who are loathe to rile them up. (Recall that during the discussion regarding De Blasio’s plan to replace Rikers Jail with smaller, borough-based jails, Staten Island was somehow allowed to be the only borough that would not get a new jail.)
The powerful, conservative voting block/s on Staten Island, and the politicians on the Island and at City Hall who cater to them, shield that borough from pulling its fair share.
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
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)
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)
@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
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
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:
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.
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.
The map above shows the prevalence of certain reported violent felonies—homicides, robberies, and felony assaults—by neighborhood. The areas with the highest reported violent crime rates are in areas of the South Bronx, portions of Harlem, Norwood to Wakefield in the North Bronx, and portions of central and east Brooklyn, all of which have predominantly Black or Hispanic populations. Smaller areas that also have high rates of community violence are on the north shore of Staten Island, Coney Island, Queensbridge, Jamaica, and the Rockaways. Midtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn have elevated rates of NYPD complaints due to their high volume of daily visitors; it is therefore less likely that residents of these areas experience crime in the same way or to the same degree as residents of other, more residential neighborhoods that are predominantly communities of color, such as the Melrose and Mott Haven neighborhoods of the Bronx and Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn.
Given these highly unequal spatial patterns of violent crime, Black and Hispanic New Yorkers have the highest rates of exposure to violent felony crimes near their homes in communities like Harlem and East Harlem.
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
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.