Greater Harlem Coalition’s response to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement establishing supervised consumption 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 recovery, be it methadone clinics, needle exchanges, or supervised consumption 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 consumption 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 when 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 systems of oppression that many local, state and national politicians purport to be fighting.  

Lastly, the siting of the Nation’s first formal supervised consumpiton 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.

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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 

(Jan 27)GHC to speak in public forum related to integration of OASAS and DOMH

The support of substance abuse patients in the state of New York is regulated at the state level by the Office of Addiction Support and Services (@NYSOASAS) – which reports to Governor Cuomo.

Under Governor Cuomo, the merger of the Office of Mental Health (DOMH) and OASAS continues to gain momentum and there is an upcoming virtual session where public are invited to speak up on their concerns on January 27th to decision makers in Albany.

WE INVITE YOU TO SPEAK in this forum on how the oversaturation of substance abuse facilities of your community has impacted you and your family. Greater Harlem Coalition will also speak to urge the new agency to reduce and monitor the over concentration of such facilities in Harlem.

To register to speak, please contact them:
-By phone:518-474-4403
-By email:Leesa.Rademacher@omh.ny.gov

To listen only, go to the webex session on this link

Although OASAS and OMH have always collaborated well to serve New Yorkers, the creation of a unified behavioral health agency is being explored as a way to increase coordination of services and support people with both substance use disorders and mental illnesses. An integrated behavioral health agency could also help streamline service delivery and increase efficiency.

NYOASAS/DOMH

As we always say, Albany cannot read your mind.  They will not change course unless they hear from you.  If you don’t tell them what you think, what you are experiencing, what you want done, they will ignore you.  

Your voice can make a difference.  Please contact them, sign up to speak, and ask them why Harlem is oversaturated with methadone clinics when wealthier and whiter neighborhoods have none.

More details of the meeting on Jan 27 are here: https://oasas.ny.gov/news/behavioral-health-services-advisory-council-meet-virtually-january-27-2021 

More details of the integration of the two organizations are here: Reimagining Behavioral Health Services – Overview and Discussion Questions (ny.gov)

Recording of the previous 4 listening sessions can be found here: Reimagining Behavioral Health Listening Sessions | The State of New York (ny.gov)

For previous related posts, see also a letter our members Keith Taylor @Taylor4Harlem sent to DOMH and OASAS here

NY Govt Wants to Hear Your Views on Pending Merger of Dept of Addiction Services and Dept of Mental Health

@NYOASAS and @NYSOHM are on a listening tour. Pls send your views to @NYGovCuomo! This is the chance to help build a more effective @NYOASAS and stop the issue of oversaturation
#greaterharlem #redliningharlem
#inequity
#oversaturation

There is an imminent 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.

Let’s take advantage of this unique opportunity to help the government create a more effective Addiction Services for New York State. Submit a statement here

Or, you can just write to @NYSOASAS and @NYGovCuomo on twitter.

Tell them OASAS must do a better job in (1) preventing a neighborhood from being oversaturated with drug treatment facilities and (2) monitoring the impact of drug treatment centers on the nearby areas.

See more detail of the announcements below:

Governor Cuomo’s announcement of merger of DOMH and OASAS. Click on the image to learn more

Your statements don’t have to be lengthy or exhaustive.  A simple, heartfelt request from you is sufficient.  As we always say, they can’t read our minds.  We need to tell them what Harlem wants them to do.

Waiting on a FOIL

The Greater Harlem Coalition–a data-driven activist group–files FOIL requests to help Harlemites and elected officials see how decades of systemic racism overburdens Harlem and escalates the risks for vulnerable New Yorkers seeking addiction treatment.

We expect this FOIL request to become available in early January 2021:

Mount Sinai = Methadone in Harlem and East Harlem

With new data from a FOIL request to OASAS, the size of Mount Sinai’s methadone programs relative to other Harlem and East Harlem providers is possible. On the screenshot below, you can see how the Mount Sinai programs on West 124th Street and East 125th Street dominate our community

To see the entire city (and note how unevenly distributed Opioid Treatment Programs are), see the full map, below.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/RNUZ2/1/

GHC letter to Senator Brian Benjamin

The Greater Harlem Coalition is calling on our elected officials and asking them to do the work necessary to enact legislation that will ensure that the oversaturation of Harlem and East Harlem is stopped and ultimately reversed.

The Greater Harlem Coalition is calling on our elected officials and asking them to do the work necessary to enact legislation that will ensure that the oversaturation of Harlem and East Harlem is stopped and ultimately reversed.

Below is the letter we recently sent our representatives:

Dear Senator Benjamin, Assembly Member Dickens, and Assembly Member Rodriguez, 

The Greater Harlem Coalition, a group of more than 6,000 members with an expected 10,000 by year’s end, is requesting legislative action to curtail the negative impact of methadone clinics in Harlem. 

As our representatives to the New York State Assembly and Senate, you have said “tell me what you would like to see done to mitigate the problems caused by these methadone clinics in Harlem”, and we are here today with a response. 

Bill A0307 has languished in the Mental Health Committee of the Assembly for almost a decade, and there have been no major changes regulating these clinics in years. During that time, OASAS licensed clinics have expanded in our community, attracting even greater numbers of illegal drug sellers, and increasingly eroded our quality of life by increasing crime, exposing young children to drugs and an unsafe environment, reducing area property values, and negatively impacting Harlem businesses, particularly small businesses.

We are requesting the following amendments to the current bill and/or that a new bill be introduced to address the oversaturation of methadone clinics in Harlem.

Additional regulations should require: 

1. A moratorium on the introduction of any new, or the expansion of any existing, clinics in Central and East Harlem. Owner/operators should pay punitive fines for violations, and their actions should trigger an immediate review and possible suspension of their OASAS license for significant violations.   

2. Any new clinic opening in New York City should not be placed within 1000 feet of a school, park, church, or existing OASAS licensed program, instead of 500 feet as currently slated. 

3. All methadone clinic license issuances and renewals must include an annual environmental impact assessment, to include quality-of-life metrics, conducted by the local police department and select community-based institutions. If the assessment shows clinics have a negative impact on the neighboring community, a license should not be granted or renewed.  

a. We suggest the local police department conduct this review because they issue and reject similar licenses for businessesthat may infringe on quality of life. We are of the opinion that a business’ ability to serve alcohol (as an example of something the NYPD regulates) has not caused nearly as much damage to quality of life as these clinics. 

4. Clinic owner/operators pay a recurring community impacts fee to address quality of life concerns and complaints caused by patients within a 7-block radius of these clinics. The citizens of New York should not have to suffer through the problems these clinics cause, especially since these clinics make millions of dollars for their owner/operators.  

The evidence is irrefutable that these clinics have repeatedly violated community norms, overburdened public resources, and negatively impacted economic development. This should not be the case, and the passage of Bill A0307, or new bills like it, with the amendments we requested, would create the change we are looking for. 

We are requesting that you respond to this letter in writing within two weeks.  Your response should include timelines that show how you will move forward with our legislative request, including a conversation with us about how these regulations should be framed. 

We look forward to hearing from you and working together to improve our community.  

Sincerely, Greater Harlem Coalition Member Organizations: 

118 Street Block Association 120th Street Block 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 Advocates 4 The Community Chaiwali Chocolat Restaurant & Bar CIVITAS Columbus Distributors Compass Realty Dorrence Brooks Property Owners & Residents Association Edward Jones Elaine Perry Associates Ephesus SDA Church Freeland Liqour Friendly Hands Ministry Friends of the Harriett Tubman Monument Gastiaburo + Stella Real Estate Ginjan Cafe Graham Court Renters Association Greater Calvary Baptist Church Halstead Manhattan Hamilton Terrace Block Association Harlem Business Alliance Harlem Lofts Harlem Park to Park Harlem Properties Inc. Harlem Shake Harlem Wine Gallery Harlem Home Heart to Heart Community Outreach Il Cafe Latte 1 Il Cafe Latte 2 Jacqueline Allmond Cuisine INC Lenox to 5th 124th Street Block Association LenoxFive 127th Street Block Association Malcolm Pharmacy Mirada Home Owners Association MXB United Neighbors United of West 132nd Street Block Association New York Council for Housing Development Fund Companies, Inc. Open Hands Legal Services Paris Blues Jazz Club Progressives Educating New Yorkers, Inc. R. Kenyatta Punter and Associates Rubys VintageSayers and Doers Silicon Harlem Sotto Casa Pizzeria Sugar Hill Concerned Neighbors Group The 100-168 West 121st Street Resident Block Association The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association The new 123rd Street Block Association (Lenox – 7th) The United New Church of Christ The West 130th Street Homeowners Association The West 132nd Street Block Association Union Settlement House Upholstery Lab Uptown Townhouse Valerie’s Signature Salon West 119th Block Association West 121st Street Block Association West 126th Street Block Association West 135th Street Block Association West 136th Street Block Association Wynn Optics   

CC: Govenor Andrew Coumo Mayor Bill DeBlasio Dermot Shea, Police Commissioner Chauncey Parker, Deputy Commissioner, NYPD Dr. Dave Chokski, Health Commissioner Hillary Kunins, DoHMH Steven Hanson, OASAS Zoraida Diaz, OASAS Diana Ayala, NYC Council Member Bill Perkins, NYC Council Member Brad Lander, NYC Council Member Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President Scott Stringer, NYC Comptroller Shaun Donovan, Mayoral Candidate Alvin Bragg, NYC DA CandidateTali Farhadian Weinstein, NYC DA Candidate Inspector Brown, 28th Precinct Shatic Mitchell, CB10 District Manager Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, NY Times Robert York, Editor, NY Daily News Michelle Gotthel, Editor, NY Post

OASAS Denies Responsibility for Decades of Oversaturating Harlem

OASAS Refuses to Accept Responsibility for Decades of Oversaturating Harlem

One of the Greater Harlem Coalition’s members received a letter from Zoraida Diaz, a District Director at OASAS.

What is missing from her passing-the-buck response is any acknowledgment of how OASAS has spent decades overstaturating Harlem and East Harlem with addiction programs that other wealthier and whiter communities have successfully blocked. This super concentration of programs (and the men and women who attend them), has become a magnet for illegal drug sellers and caused a toxic decline in our quality of life in Harlem and East Harlem.

Acknowledging OASAS’s role in creating the situation we see on East and West 125th Street and down adjacent Avenues, would be a first step to addressing the roots of the systemic racism that has led to the intolerable conditions we experience every day on the streets of our community.

Sadly, OASAS offers no willingness to begin a conversation on how to end the oversaturation they are responsible for, and how to achieve fair share goals for all New York communities.

Significant Increases in Admits to Harlem Opioid Treatment Programs: 2017–2020 See all NYC statistics

Comparing identical examples of OASAS FOIL data from 2017 and now 2020, we are able to see how admissions to Opioid Treatment Programs have increased or decreased in specific communities.

The map below shows increases in red and decreases in blue.

Click on the map and hover over any of the dots to learn more. Note that the size of the dot indicates a larger program.

Opioid Treatment Deserts 2020

The updated map shows the communities in New York that have no opioid treatment centers. Williamsburg, Astoria are examples


New data from the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) allowed us to map the inverse of what people typically map – a lacuna. In particular, we were interested in learning which Community Districts in New York are Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) deserts. The resulting map shows the communities in New York that have no OTPs in red. The consequence is that residents in these neighborhoods who are suffering from addiction to opioids have to travel to communities like Harlem and East Harlem (often daily), for treatment.

Explore the map here:

https://fordham.carto.com/u/shill18/builder/8202e3cd-d7ca-4fc5-9c79-22d883c3b51d/embed

Opioid Treatment Locations and Admission Totals

Our latest Greater Harlem Coalition data, from a 2019/2020 FOIL request to OASAS, has yielded a map of the location of Opioid Treatment Programs in New York City and their admission totals:

Zoom into Harlem and East Harlem to see the local clusters licensed by OASAS that have oversaturated Harlem and East Harlem as well as the South Bronx:

Here is the full interactive map.