Community Board 11 – Moratorium Vote Postponed

Community Board 11 has postponed their discussion/vote on a proposed moratorium on new or expanded addiction programs in East Harlem. This issue will not come before the board tomorrow evening, at their January 26th Full Board meeting.

Angel Mescain from CB11 writes:

This item is not on the agenda for our FB meeting tomorrow.
The matter has been referred back to the committee by the board chair.
If you could update your subscribers that would be helpful to avoid confusion.

GHC Letter to NYS Attorney General – No Response

Read the letter a Greater Harlem Coalition member wrote to the New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, who has still not replied.

You can tweet her at: @NewYorkStateAG and email her at: https://ag.ny.gov/contact-attorney-general-letitia-james

A Letter to The Mayor from a Greater Harlem Coalition Member

To: The Honorable Mayor DeBlasio

Good afternoon Mr. Mayor, I hope this email finds you and your family all safe and healthy. This is the fourth email I am sending you over the last couple of months. I want to begin this correspondence by saying thank you for all the hard work that you and your staff are doing to help guide our New York City citizens through these harrowing times. I am very sad to hear about the one year old baby being murdered in Bed Sty over the last several days. The uptick in gun violence this year may be an anomaly compared to recent years due to multiple factors, but please understand that us New Yorkers are in need of the protection of good police officers to protect us. I hope that there is not a policy in place that is stopping the police from fighting to get illegal guns off our streets.

As before, the matter I am writing about concerns the rampant, open market heroin sales and use that has infected specifically my block on Malcolm X Boulevard between 123rd and 124th Streets. When I first visited the 28th precinct about 12 months or so ago to alert the police and ask for help, I was noticing only a few strangers walking up and down the block or standing outside in front of my house in the middle of the sidewalk selling bags of heroin to customers while families were walking their kids in strollers up and down the street.  There was no action taken by the police to address this problem for over a year.  My neighbors and I have been seeking help from the narcotics north division as well as from other city officials, but the problem has only gotten worse and worse.  Since the Covid 19 shut down, the heroin problem on this block has spiked exponentially. Now, each and every day, there are up to 20 different drug dealers who have set up our sidewalk as an open air market to sell and use heroin in public. There are addicts and homeless people who are trespassing on my property as well as on the property of my neighbors to buy and use heroin all day long and into the night.  The same drug dealers are working this block like a corporation, beginning work at 9:00 AM until. I came outside this morning to do errands and the first thing I encountered was a man leaning against my front gate, sniffing heroin in front of pedestrians passing by.  This is a disgusting and disgraceful condition that the residents who live here have been abandoned to live  with daily with no help from the police or from the Department of Health or from any other city agencies who are responsible for addressing this matter.  I don’t know who else to ask for help from at this point except from you personally.

They are not hiding but conducting business blatantly with no regard for the people who live here. Not one of these people who loiter daily on this block to sell and use heroin or any other drugs in public lives on this block.  Instead, they come here daily, drink malt liquor in public, throw trash and food waste onto the street, disturb the peace, loiter and ask everyone including myself if they want to buy some dope. What has happened to this block is disgraceful, depressing and very dangerous for the people who live here.  There is nothing on this block except for a corner store, a restaurant, several brownstones, a school and a closed-down church.  These dope dealers have been allowed by law enforcement for months to sell heroin directly in front of the church as well as the school, on camera with no consequence. The only reason our sidewalk is infested with loiterers and drug addicts is because local law enforcement has condoned the use of our block as a safe haven for heroin dealers to conduct open-air business with no consequences.  There was nothing done about this before the pandemic so I question whether this complacency on the part of the police has anything to do with anything else that came after the pandemic including Black Lives Matter protests, anti-protests, the recent spike in homicides, etc.

I understand that our police are under a lot of stress now dealing with gun violence but I am also concerned that our police are conducting some kind of passive strike upon our community in retaliation for community calls for police reform.  I don’t know the current policy of law enforcement when it comes to handling open market heroin sales but I do know that what is going on is definitely illegal.

I know that we are just one block in all the five boroughs, that there are so many other pressings issues on your plate and that we are not “special.” On behalf of my mother, my neighbors and myself, I am nonetheless humbly begging you to please, please, please direct the officers of the 28th precinct and of the narcotics north detective squad to arrest and remove this organization of heroin dealers from off of our block post-haste. We have spoken to and asked for help from city council officials, prosecutors, police officers, etc. with no results. The detectives have pictures of the same people who are destroying the public safety of our block but have yet to do anything about it.  I am hoping that you will assign a mobile police unit to our block for at least a few months until winter in order to stem the increasing tide of outdoor drug activity. We are only two blocks from the precinct but I never see officers walking a beat to remove this problem.  I am honestly afraid that one of the residents on this block will soon become a victim of homicide if nothing is done to control the plague of criminals that has besieged our block.  Please Mr. Mayor, please, I am begging you personally for your help. Thank you in advance.

With all due respect,                                                                                                                            

Mr. Ray Roberts

Malcolm X Boulevard United (MXB)

CBS News: Oversaturation of Harlem has attracted illegal drug sellers

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.

Drug deal W. 124th St between Lenox and ACP

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:

Click here to see the full segment:

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

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 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.

Oversaturation in CB11

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!

East Harlem has 1.5% of population but 13.6% of drug treatment capacity
Data source: NYC Government OASAS Agency as a FOIL request by Y Pielet as of April 2019

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.

Beth Israel and Harlem East Life Plan represent 60% of the district's capacity

As for which district is not receiving its fair share of drug treatment capacities? Data speaks for itself

Manhattan is oversaturated with drug treatment capacities

Where Are They From?

The Greater Harlem Coalition has researched and repeatedly proven the oversaturation of substance use programs in Harlem and East Harlem using data from the agencies responsible. Our neighborhood hosts many more addiction programs than are justified by our population, by our addiction rates, or even by the drug related (overdose) death rate.

Given this, it is logical to ask, “Where then, do the patients who are admitted to New York City addiction programs, come from?

Using a 2020 FOIL request regarding admission data, we have mapped the home addresses of patients who attend NYC’s substance abuse programs. The result is national. Residents of San Diego, Maine, Miami Beach, and even Anchorage Alaska, are admitted to New York addiction programs.

In the following maps, the red dots indicate the home addresses of people who are admitted to New York City’s addiction programs. The larger and darker the red dots, the greater number of admitted patients.

From:

Admissions to NYS OASAS‐certified Chemical Dependence Treatment Programs Located in NYC by Zip Code of Residence, from March 1, 2019 through February 29, 2020: NYS OASAS Data Warehouse, CDS extract of 8/30/2020

To see the live map (you can hover over a dot to learn more):