Policy Advocacy

Due to NIMBYs’ push back on siting of social services in their districts, all over the country, neighborhoods of color located in transportation hubs are prone to become over-saturated with social services rejected by wealthier neighborhoods. Governmental policy must be in place to counter this outcome. Below are areas of policies that should be in place:

1) Locational strategy / Density control:  •Methadone facilities should not be located within a certain distance to each other and to schools (e.g. 1 mile) •Density of methadone facilities in each district should be proportional to overdose rate of local residents or the rate of local residents with addiction issues. Density should be based on objective quantifiable measures. “Local residents” should not include residents of shelters who are not originally from Harlem •Impose stricter zoning regulations for methadone facilities •

2) Improve data transparency and thus accountabilities:  •Data to be disclosed should include locations of methadone facilities, capacities, type of services, funding sources, ownership, facilities performance metrics (e.g. rate of recovery, rate of patient retention), internal and external audit results and verified malpractice complaints to the Justice Center •

3) Improve accountability of facilities’ environmental impact: •When OASAS renews the contract with each provider (every 2 or 3 years), OASAS must adequately assess the impact of the facilities to their vicinity areas and whether there are credible monitoring systems (e.g. security guards who walks the few blocks) to prevent patients from loitering and reselling methadone. Such assessment should not just be performed by community boards. Instead, it must involve people on the ground such as police, sanitation workers, social workers, local community leaders, and local business organizations, or even better involve an objective assessment by third party 

4) Provide incentives to end methadone treatment:  •New metrics must be collected to track the rate patients are converted from methadone to buprenorphine, and converting patients to telehealth. Right now the centers don’t have incentives to perform the difficult conversion even if it is better for the patient in the long run •Increase in-patient treatment

5) Budgetary constraints:  The budget for OASAS from the Senate must be contingent on its fulfilling the above restrictions