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San Francisco Chronicle Reports That Many Injection Site Users Come From Outside Harlem

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that:

“The Greater Harlem Coalition has used FOIL data from New York State to prove that 75% of people attending Harlem and East Harlem Opioid Treatment Programs do not live in our community – they are hundreds upon hundreds of opioid commuters who are sent to Harlem and East Harlem for care. Now we have 3rd party evidence (The San Francisco Chronicle) gathered inside and outside the On Point Safe Injection Site on East 126th Street over the course of almost a week, that:

“…There are a lot of people in need, but they don’t live here.” That seemed mostly true, as clients I interviewed lived all over Manhattan and in other boroughs.”

“Yet just as there are foes in San Francisco, not all New Yorkers are sold on the idea, especially if the sites are located near them. And they raise concerns that must be meaningfully addressed.

“Among the most outspoken critics are the co-founders of the Greater Harlem Coalition, who say the clustering of addiction services in their neighborhood fuels the stereotype that it’s all Black and Latino people who are addicted to drugs, while enticing dealers by offering a concentrated customer base.“

Why, they ask, aren’t there supervised consumption sites, methadone clinics and other treatment facilities in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods like the Upper West Side? The same tension roils supposedly progressive San Francisco, where officials treat the Tenderloin as a containment zone for the city’s ills while wealthier neighborhoods manage to reject being the location for services.
“Shawn Hill and Syderia Asberry-Chresfield are co-founders of the Greater Harlem Coalition. They aren’t fans of the supervised drug consumption site in their neighborhood.“

‘It’s always, ‘Trust us. We know the data, and the data tells us you need the services we’re trying to shove down your throats,’’ said Shawn Hill, one of the co-founders of the community improvement organization, who lives in Harlem.

“Syderia Asberry-Chresfield, another co-founder who lives in the neighborhood, said, ‘There are a lot of people in need, but they don’t live here.’ That seemed mostly true, as clients I interviewed lived all over Manhattan and in other boroughs. ‘Open them up,’ she said, ‘but open them up in other places.’“

The East Harlem facility sits directly across the street from a preschool, and every mom I asked about it at pickup time expressed unease. Michelle Santana, who has two children at the school, said she has at times been forced to push through crowds of people on the sidewalks.

“‘It’s dangerous sometimes,’ she said, while acknowledging that it was better to host the drug use inside rather than on the sidewalks. ‘They don’t even respect that these kids are here.’”

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