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.

###

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 

City Council District 9 Candidate Athena Moore

https://www.athenamoore.com/

Below are Athena Moore’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

Harlem and East Harlem have suffered from a rise in illegal drug use and sales; homelessness; and crime. We must use every resource possible to address these concerns. Medical redlining is also a significant problem. The African American and Latino communities have experienced significant barriers and lack of access to services. However, the location of SIF and methadone clinics must be thoughtfully planned specific to the data and need in recognition of the historic and pervasive unfair treatment of our communities. As a City Council member, I will advocate for legislation that prioritizes evidence-based prevention, treatment and care and improved safety outcomes in our neighborhoods. Safe Injection Facilities (SIF) have shown a steep reduction in deaths by overdose and is one method to help combat the opioid crisis, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the proliferation has led to an oversaturation in Harlem and East Harlem. I support a moratorium on methadone clinics and fair share of harm reduction facilities. Harlem bears a disproportionate burden of facilities and I strongly believe we must correct this imbalance. We must have equity in determining the location of these sites and ensure an increase in funding and resources for public safety, sanitation/trash removal, mental health assistance and homeless prevention. For nearly a decade, I have worked directly with the 125th St TaskForce, the District Attorney’s Office, NYPD, DOH, 125th St BID, MMPCIA, local block associations and others to encourage cross-agency coordination and I will continue to facilitate necessary planning with the Mayor, City Council and city agencies to address the growing concerns. I will support increased police presence and drug surveillance in identified high crime and drug areas. I have worked with Greater Harlem Coalition since it’s inception and will remain vigilant in advocacy and action. I will advocate for culturally responsive services and address related stigma to ensure that the needs of substance abuse, homelessness, and mental health are met with dignity and compassion but not to the expense of the quality of life and safety of local residents.

City Council District 9 Candidate Mario Rosser

https://www.mariorosser.com/

Below are Mario Rosser’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

I will advocate for a bottom up approach to substance use programs in our community. The top down approach has harmed Harlem in real ways. We need to stop providing funds to the same programs but expecting different results. As City Councilmember, I would deploy the convening power of our City Council office to ensure providers in our community coordinate to save lives instead of competing for dollars.

City Council District 9 Candidate William Allen

https://www.williamallennyc.org/

Below are William Allen’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

The last two questions are pretty broad and require further explanations. As a child, my Harlem streets were sprayed with used syringes, glass and flatten soda or beer cans. My mother worried daily about my journey from home to school. She thought that one of the needles would find its way into my cloth sneakers. Today in Harlem, unfortunately, you can find large numbers of people in search of the next high and others like me, fighting for quality services to rid them of their ills that prevent them from a better life. All have become challenging in this Harlem century. The sights today causes progressive thinkers to often question their own humanity. With the incline of more educated and wealthier Harlem residents, new issues have emerged. The 2020 is reporting that the district population— blacks at 47.8%, whites at 24%, nonwhite Hispanics at 19% and Asian/Others at 9% (numbers should be confirmed). I firmly oppose the over saturation of programs and facilities that don’t serve Harlem residents. In addition, I don’t support programs that don’t have a component to measure community concerns. In Greater Harlem, we support humane treatment and services, but they must be done without negating local residents quality of life, near and around such facilities. As the Harlem voice in the NYC Council, I’ll insure that the local community boards will serve as a major conduit for civic education and engagement on all issues confronting our community. The GHC has done a tremendous job of educating Greater Harlem, as well as those that impact public policy and the management of critical services. All of the current research suggest that Safe Injection Programs save lives, save municipalities money, i.e., hospitalizations and emergency care. I would oppose placing any safe injection sites in the district, if it isn’t a part of a plan to equitably distribute such facilities around the city. Also, we must insure that our city expand its NYC Cares. New York State must push solidly for Single Payer Healthcare to ensure that New Yorkers with drug dependency disorders have increased access to care, therapy and low cost treatment. It would be great for our local institutions to be known as the best ones serving people from communities of long standing need. Every New Yorker should be served with dignity, but no community should be the dumping ground because its populated by the poor and the silent. While our nation accepts the poor, the tried and huddle masses yearning to be free, but often it does it without insuring the dignity of those needing help.

City Council District 9 Candidate Cordell Cleare

Cordell Cleare on Facebook

Below are Cordell Cleare’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

City Council District 9 Candidate Alpheaus Marcus

https://alpheausmarcus.net/

Below are Alpheaus Marcus’ thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

There has been a huge problem within Harlem where these programs are essentially geared at promoting drug use as opposed to helping end the drug use. Growing up in Harlem I have seen the effects as well as the affects drugs have caused in the urban families. The wasted funding on programs as well as the support of safe injection sites does very little to address drug dealing and the other hazards associated with drug dealing namely gun violence. We must be both proactive and diligent in holding our elected officials accountable for the foreseeable narrative resulting from having these programs especially here in the Harlem Communities. As a community advocate running for city council for district 9 this lawmaking platform will only amplify my advocacy for both the interest and public safety interest of Harlem. Thank you.

City Council District 9 Candidate Pierre Gooding

https://www.goodingforharlem.com/

Below are Pierre Gooding’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

I am in agreement with public health experts who have stated that communities in New York City must address the drug addiction and overdose crisis by providing safe injection sites. Studies done by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have consistently shown that Harlem and East Harlem have the highest rates of unintentional drug overdose. I personally dealt with a situation while running a homeless shelter overnight in Harlem where a guest overdosed on Heroin and her life was only saved due to Narcan. This is a moral issue as well as a policy concern. We must care for our residents and put them on the path away from drugs and towards success. Injection sites placed in proper locations should be a part of that plan. A consolidation of the substance abuse programs into the injection sites – which is part of the sites intended purpose – could lower the amount of facilities needed and take care of the issue the community is currently raising regarding saturation.

City Council District 9 Candidate Joshua Clennon

Joshua Clennon’s Website

Below are Joshua Clennon’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

As a leader on Manhattan Community Board 10, I have been a vocal advocate against the over saturation of addition treatment facilities in Harlem and supported a moratorium on the additional opening of these facilities in Harlem. As your next City Council member, I will seek to introduce legislation to amend zoning text to prevent the clustering of these facilities and to ensure they are equitably distributed throughout our city. There is research to suggest that safe injection sites cities such as New York will save lives and save the city millions in hospitalizations and emergency care expenses. However, I will vehemently oppose the opening of any safe injection site in Harlem as our community has long been overburdened with addition treatment facilities and we must ensure Harlem does not continue to be utilized as a dumping ground and that facilities are equitably distributed throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Additionally, I will support efforts to expand NYC Cares and advocate for Single Payer Healthcare for New York State to increase access to care, therapy, and low cost treatment for individuals with drug dependency disorders.

City Council District 9 Candidate Dr. Keith Taylor

https://www.taylormadeforharlem.com/

Below are Dr. Keith Taylor’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

My name is Dr. Keith Taylor and I am running for City Council District 9. As a Harlem’s City Council representative, I will fight for the reduction of substance use program capacities and other facilities related to addiction, mental health, and homelessness within East and Central Harlem. While government and private treatment providers have a responsibility to provide vulnerable New Yorkers with effective, small-scale, addiction rehabilitation, mental health, and homelessness services, they should be located in all New York neighborhoods to serve the local populations in need. Large-scale substance abuse programs operating in East and Central Harlem have long been detrimental to the safety and quality of life of Harlem residents. Specifically, the daily presence of illegal drug dealers on our streets is driven by the concentrated number of vulnerable patients who attend the disproportionately large outpatient substance use programs in East and Central Harlem. As a long-term resident and community activist, I am committed to the safety, health, and well-being of all Harlem residents, small business owners, guests, and visitors. Because of this, as Central Harlem’s City Council representative I will fight for an immediate moratorium on new or expanded chemical dependency treatment programs in our community, a 20% reduction in OASAS-certified opioid treatment capacities, and for a fair share of harm reduction facilities to be located in each district where there is a need. Every New York neighborhood must take on its fair share of these programs and Harlem needs relief from the disproportionate burden that it has struggled under. The practice of oversaturating East and Central Harlem with ineffectively monitored drug treatment programs that cater largely to non-Harlem residents is a practice of medical redlining, and one I will fight to end. I will fight so that Harlem is no longer routinely chosen for addiction program locations out of proportion to our community’s population, drug-related death rates, or addiction rates. The practice of substance abuse oversaturation undermines the economic vitality and public safety of East and Central Harlem. As City Councilmember I will support efforts to X-the-X-waiver to reduce the over saturation of substance abuse programs in East and Central Harlem.

City Council District 9 Candidate Sheba Simpson

https://www.shebaforcitycouncil.com/

Below are Sheba Simpson’s thoughts on oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem:

As a long time Harlemite, I have witnessed first hand how drugs have decimated our community. It is not a secret that it was and continues to be done purposely. I will continue to speak out against the over saturation of substance treatment facilities in our neighborhoods. I will fight to stop Harlem from being ground zero for more facilities to open in our community. Every borough should have its fair share of responsibility in helping people get the assistance they need to become drug free.