HNBA October Meeting and Uptown Grand Central

Hello Harlem Neighbors, we are canceling our October HNBA meeting but encourage you to consider joining CIVITAS in a fundraising evening, celebrating an unbelievable force in East Harlem: Uptown Grand Central and Carey King.

Join CIVITAS Tuesday, October 13th, 2020
Virtual Annual Benefit
6:30pm to 7:15pm

The CIVITAS Benefit Committee and the CIVITAS Board of Directors request the pleasure of your company for our Virtual Benefit celebrating 39 years of achievements by CIVITAS by honoring this year’s recipients of The August Heckscher Founder Award for Community Service and supporting our longtime neighborhood businesses.
RSVP Tickets

Here is the UGC story on their beginnings:
The New Harlem East Merchants Association (NHEMA) got its start in 2013 when mom-and-pop stores along East 125th Street were struggling to keep their doors open and repeatedly hearing: “We don’t shop on East 125th Street because it’s too dirty and we are accosted by people panhandling, and …”

Recognizing this problem, merchants on one block between Fifth and Madison avenues began to organize informally to improve the area. A mural was painted announcing themselves as “The New Harlem East.” Then, with brooms in hand, joined by 40 volunteers from the neighborhood, NHEMA members held their first street clean-up.

As more merchants and community members learned of the efforts, NHEMA grew and was able to receive grant funding and take on more ambitious projects. This included hiring ACE (the Association of Community Employment) to do street cleaning — an innovative strategy that brightens up the area and provides homeless individuals with a clear path off the streets. We also began to take on other projects such as connecting merchants and residents with discounts to area stores, beautifying the area with flowers and tree pits, organizing street festivals for East Harlem residents, launching a farm-fresh produce market, sponsoring holiday lights along the East 125th Street corridor, and in 2015, launching our Uptown Grand Central plaza program underneath the Metro-North viaduct at 125th Street & Park Avenue.

In 2016, we expanded to create Uptown Grand Central, a 501c3 nonprofit that works to support, strengthen and showcase all that is “grand” about our neighborhood, from small businesses to culture to greening to art. Our goal is to transform the East 125th Street corridor by putting advocacy into action.

Grant Opportunity

If you are interested in applying for this grant (detailed below) by October 20th, please let us know:

From: Sam Lawson <>
Date: Thu, Oct 8, 2020 at 12:16 PM
Subject: Grant Opportunity: Strengthening Communities through Recovery


I am reaching out to let you know about a new grant that we have released. Please feel free to send to any organizations in Harlem that might be interested.

NYC Emergency Management is encouraging you to apply to the newly released Strengthening Communities through Recovery COVID-19 grant opportunity.  

Any interested community leader or community emergency networks that serves one of the below communities should apply.  A community emergency network is a group or coalition that consists of nonprofit, community, and faith-based organizations that are organized around an issue important to their community such as climate change, gun violence, housing, disability rights, among others.

The below communities have been identified by NYC Department of Health as disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.  Community leaders and community emergency networks that are selected will be supported to develop and maintain local emergency plans and implement recovery strategies that will help your community recover from COVID-19. 

Proposals and questions about the RFP process should be emailed to Abdul Washington at

This Small Purchase RFP is specifically seeking proposers serving in one of the following communities: 

Manhattan: East Harlem and Central Harlem; Lower East Side and Chinatown; Inwood and Washington Heights    Due: 10/20/20 at 5 PM

​(Basically the grant is for 40,000 dollars for an organization to create an emergency plan. 20,000 is for the organization and 20,000 is for a “consultant” to carry out the work. More information is in the attached document, and for further questions please reach out to our procurement staff:​​)


Sam Lawson

Community Engagement Specialist

NYC Emergency Management

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Cleaner police garage on 118 St and Park

Inspired by the discussion in HBNA’s September meeting, the folks on the block of 118 Street and Park helped clean up the pile of trash in the police garage under the metro north rail. The trash picked up completely fill one large trash bag. Please help to keep the area clean for our children and residents!

Police garage on 118 Street and Park Avenue - before clean up
Before clean up

Police garage on 118 and Park - after clean up
After clean up

New FOIL Data from OASAS

In August I 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 I recently received (BELOW – although incomplete – I will be resubmitting the request) indicates that Harlemites form 8% of the admissions to New York City’s addiction programs

While I am 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.

Questions for the Commanding Officer at the 25th Precinct

We asked HNBA members to submit questions they would like Captain Henning to answer today at 7:00 PM at the September HNBA meeting. Here are the questions posed by your neighbors:

What are you and your fellow precinct and department leaders doing to ensure that your officers, most of whom do not live in this neighborhood, have the necessary levels of investment in our communities and connectivity to us as residents to ensure they patrol our streets with the respect we deserve? I think I speak for myself and my neighbors when I say we’re tired of being viewed as “other” by the cops that are supposed to be working for and with us.

Why are NYPD officers not always wearing a mask in the street?

Why is there absolutely no police presence around 6am – 8am in the morning around 125th street and Lexington Avenue?

What is being done about the homeless and drug activity around 125th and Lexington? I’ve never seen it so bad.

What is being done about the homeless and drug activity around 125th and Lexington? I’ve never seen it so bad.

With unrest in the Black community, a horrible lack preparedness to the Coronavirus, and despite that fact Trump is not supported by the majority of New Yorkers, why would the NYPD – which is supposed to be non-partisan – back Trump as President?

The Sergeants Benevolent Association this year has issued declaration of “war” on the Mayor, and appeared with QAnon material in interviews. Understanding SBA is not NYPD, but do officers at the Precinct understand, nonetheless, that these incidents have an impact in some residents’ ability to trust the police?

I’m still seeing a lot of officers without masks. I also notice around 125 and Lex they are often standing around chatting in groups of four, without masks. I asked an officer once why he wasn’t wearing a mask and he told me he was immune. Tried to tell him that was nice but he could still infect someone. He wasn’t particularly interested in hearing that. I’m trying to say “Hello” and be friendly but am not thrilled with the response I’m getting.

There are often groups of people hanging around Madison between 125 and 126, sitting in their cars and playing very loud music. I can’t imagine what the local residents feel about it but I have been told that these are drug dealers and am wondering why the police never seem to do anything about it.

What is your relationship with the MTA officers at the MetroNorth station? There was a fire in my on 125th the other day. The building on fire backed up to my garden (I’m on 126th). I wanted to tell a firefighter that if they needed to get into the rear of the building they could go thru my ground floor apartment. I asked 2 officers how to get that info to the firefighters but the officers just walked away while I was talking to them. They might have been MTA police, didn’t really think to look. But a third officer who was definitely NYPD kept dismissing me and not hearing what I was saying. Finally I got him to tell a firefighter but the whole experience got me angry.

If you are a member of HNBA (Join Here) and would like to join in the conversation tonight, email Shawn for the zoom link.

Heart to Heart Concert 2020!

Saturday, September 26, 2020
Starting at 6:00pm EST 
Online from the comfort of your own home! 

Live events are on hold, but, Labor of Love Association will still host the Heart to Heart Concert, New York’s Premiere Event for Authentic Traditional/Contemporary Gospel Music.  
The Labor of Love Ensemble
Brother Alson Farley, Jr
Reverend Vandell Atkins
Elder George Heyward
The Richard Curtis Singers
Hammond Organ greats: Brother Richard Page and Brother Henry Mitchell

This year we’re doing something NEW and EXCITING and CLEVER:
Streaming live into your home on Saturday, September 26th with the music you love, PLUS a high-energy *virtual show* that includes our *new educational initiative* called OXYGEN! (Learn more below)
Fundraising: In lieu of ticket sales, we hope you’ll support our purpose and mission with a donation. Give what you can and make a difference. Your support is deeply appreciated. 
NEW this year…It’s OXYGEN – Just Breathe!  We’re blending some education into the evening that will provide you with resources to sustain and manage YOUR wellness!   We’re honored to have Dr. Sherika Newman, founder of Doctor in the Family, as our featured speaker.  Throughout the evening, she’ll share valuable information about how you can have managed, organized care and break down all the confusion many of us experience getting what we need from our medical partners.   

OXYGEN: It’s as easy as “just breathing”.Plan to have a virtual seat at Heart to Heart Concert & Oxygen!

Donate now!

You won’t want to miss this year’s experience! 

HNBA Tuesday, September 8th, Zoom Meeting with Captain Henning of the 25th Precinct

On Tuesday, September 8th, at 7pm, we’ll be hosting our first HNBA Zoom meeting. Details on the Zoom session will follow, but our meeting will feature Captain Henning – – and our two Neighborhood Coordination Officers who will answer your questions.

In advance of the meeting, HNBA members – join here if you are not already a member: – will get a survey link where they can ask questions for Captain Henning in advance. After Captain Henning has responded, we’ll open up the meeting for oral follow-up questions and other questions you might have for our NCOs.

The Zoom link and the link for your questions for the commander, will be sent out later this week.

Parents and Children

Over the last 5 years, The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association has taken on a number of issues (large and small) to improve the quality of life for residents in the East Harlem Triangle.

One small, but significant victory was the result of collaboration with neighborhood parents and schools to persuade the Department of Education to move the fence on IS 201 out from the school’s core, in order to eliminate the homeless encampments that children and their parents had to navigate around in order to attend school. In addition, children attending IS 201 have also benefited from a larger safe space for recess and after-school play.