CBS News story on how the Oversaturation of drug clinics in Harlem attracts scores of illegal drug sellers
Last night the co-founder of The Greater Harlem Coalition, the President of MMPCIA, and other concerned residents from our community were featured on CBS News. The article explored how the oversaturation of substance abuse programs in Harlem and East Harlem has attracted scores of illegal drug sellers who prey on the men and women seeking addiction help.
The CBS reporter was shown photographs, and video evidence of how the OASAS licensed programs fail to monitor or supervise their clients before or after treatment, and turn a blind eye to the drug selling and using that is occurring steps from their programs.
Residents complained about how Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo have tolerated the decline in public safety in our community and failed to address it – in sharp contrast to the Mayoral response to complaints from the Upper West Side.
The powerful coverage features a number of our visualizations from the data that prove our claims.
When asked to respond to the issue of oversaturation and our deteriorating quality of life, the Mayor’s Office gave a non-response and avoided addressing the question:
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.
East Harlem has 14% of NYC’s opioid treatment capacities but only 1.5% of NYC’s population
A resident of CB11 has undertaken an amazing analysis of how oversaturated East Harlem is:
While East Harlem has 1.5% of New York City’s population, it has 13.6% of New York City’s drug treatment capacity, according to data as of 2019 from NY agency OASAS. The graphic below illustrates how severely East Harlem is oversaturated with drug treatment facilities. This unfair social injustice MUST END!
With so many patients commuting into East Harlem for drug treatment, our district is overburdened while already struggling with other social, environmental, economic, and educational issues. Petition to your elected officials – Send Email or call them -to either dramatically reduce our 13.6% burden or perhaps allocate 13.6% of New York City’s budget as a compensation for this injustice.
Drilling down to the data, we can see that Beth Israel Medical Center and Harlem East Life Plan alone contribute to nearly 60% of the capacity. Elected officials should immediately discuss ways to reduce this capacity.
As for which district is not receiving its fair share of drug treatment capacities? Data speaks for itself
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.