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GHC member’s letter to OASAS and DOMH on their merger

As we posted on 27 Dec, there is a 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.

One of the candidate running for NYC Council of District 9, Keith Taylor @Taylor4Harlem, has submitted this public statement, which echo our sentiment that the newly merged department must urgently reverse its practice of oversaturating neighborhoods of color with drug treatment facilities.

My name is Dr. Keith Taylor, and I am currently running to be elected as the next New York City Councilmember of District 9, which covers parts of East, West and most of Central Harlem. As 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 a 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 form 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. 
Best Regards,
Dr. Keith Taylor

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