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2021 Election

We’ve begun to poll the candidates for City Council District 9 on their positions on the following questions:

  • Do you agree that Harlem and East Harlem have more than their fair share of substance use programs?
  • If elected, will you work to reduce the unfair oversaturation of substance use programs in Harlem and East Harlem?
  • Do you support locating Safe Injection Sites in New York?
  • Will you oppose locating Safe Injection Sites in Harlem and East Harlem?
  • Additional comments regarding your plans for existing and future substance use programs in Harlem and East Harlem?

So far we have answers from a number of the candidates and we’ll highlight their responses and comments, here.


Mario Rossers:

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.

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.

Athena Moore:

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.

Alpheaus Marcus:

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.

William Allen:

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.

Pierre Gooding:

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.

Joshua Clennon: Joshua Clennon’s Website

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.

Keith Taylor:

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.

Sheba Simpson:

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.