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:

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

New FOIL Data from OASAS

With only 8% of the admission to addiction programs, over 19% of all the Opioid Treatment Programs in New York City are located in Harlem and East Harlem.

In August the Greater Harlem Coalition submitted a FOIL request to OASAS, the NYS agency that licenses every single addiction program in New York State (and who refuses to meet with HNBA, State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, or The Greater Harlem Coalition…) in order to discuss their decades-long practice of locating addiction programs in Black and Latinx majority communities like Harlem and East Harlem that wealthier and whiter neighborhoods reject. This striking example of systemic racism is proven by comparing community need with the number of programs and/or the capacity totals of these programs.

Quite simply, Harlem and East Harlem have an oversaturation of programs which serve people from outside our community and who commute in for treatment, then (frequently) simply hang out on our streets.

The OASAS 2018 FOIL data from (ABOVE – obtained by the Sugar Hill Concerned Neighbors group) indicated that over 19% of all the Opioid Treatment Programs in New York City are located here, in Harlem and East Harlem. The August 2020 FOIL request we recently received (BELOW – although incomplete – we will be resubmitting the request) indicates that Harlemites form 8% of the admissions to New York City’s addiction programs

While we are still working on getting the data for community admissions (not just NYC wide admissions), there is clear consistency between this 2020 data, and the 2017 data: Harlem and East Harlem are home to approximately 7 – 8% of people admitted to addiction programs.

The proof, therefore, for systemic racism is clear. While only home to 7 – 8% of addiction admissions, OASAS and the NYC Department of Health have for decades packed programs in our community to the point where we have 2.5 times the number of programs the addiction rate data would warrant.