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

The City: Complaints from Harlem of Mount Sinai’s planned clinic

GHC Protest At Mt. Sinai Meeting With Political Leaders, Mentioned In “The City “ – 092719

By Rachel Holliday Smith

On West 124th Street, Mount Sinai Hospital has been planning for more than a year to open a new health facility.

In its current form, the Mt. Sinai outpatient clinic, set for a late-2021 opening, would include primary and specialty care as well as mental health treatment for children, teens and adults.

On the block Mt. Sinai is eyeing, there are multiple methadone clinics, a sliding-scale health center and at least two homeless shelters.

The Greater Harlem Coalition was founded last year to fight the Mount Sinai facility and bring attention to the concentration of social and health services in East and Central Harlem as a problem.

The protesters’ message was clear: the neighborhood is already doing more than its fair share, and they shouldn’t have to shoulder more services.

On a map of the density of mental health programs the group compiled from state and city health data, Harlem is shaded dark gray. Their analysis found Harlem has just 5% of New York City’s population but 15% of its mental health programs.

Data from the state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) obtained by the coalition through a Freedom of Information Law request shows that while 6.9% of people in New York City OASAS-certified treatment programs for opioid addiction are Harlem residents, nearly a fifth (19.1%) of opioid treatment programs are located there as well.

Shawn Hill, a co-founder of the Coalition told the crowd, “Every time you feel overburdened, every time you feel that it’s too much — you are absolutely correct. And we have the data to back that up,”

For full article clink here:

https://thecity.nyc/2019/09/harlem-overburdened-with-clinics-neighbors-complain.html

What is Fair Share?

In 2017, NYC City Council wrote a report outlining the policy of even distribution—fair sharing—of public services, both beneficial and least desirable.

Communities of color and lower socioeconomic status, such as Harlem and East Harlem, have historically been the dumping ground for services unwanted in other communities.

It is time to distribute these services evenly throughout the city. These include drug treatment facilities, homeless shelters, halfway houses, mental health facilities, waste treatment facilities.

In the 1989 City Charter (Section 203) it was required of the City Planning Commission to adopt the following criteria:

to further the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with city facilities, consistent with community needs for services and efficient and cost effective delivery of services and with due regard for the social and economic impacts of such facilities upon the areas surrounding the sites.

The fair share criteria guide was previously revised in 1998, when Rudy Giuliani was mayor.

We ask that our federal government representatives, Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Sen. Charles Schumer ensure that funding, such as that established to address the opioid epidemic, be used efficiently and effectively, by placing facilities where they are most needed, and that the facilities be evenly distributed.

https://council.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2017-Fair-Share-Report.pdf

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/about/publications/fair_share_guide.pdf