New Yorkers now pay about 34% of their income in rent. This ratio has been going up in fits and starts (but mostly up, up, up) since 1965. We’ll see how this pandemic and the economic fallout impacts these numbers:
Our latest data from a 2019/2020 FOIL request to OASAS has yielded this map of the location of Opioid Treatment Programs in the 5 boroughs and their admission totals:
Zooming into our neighborhood you can see how OASAS has oversaturated Harlem and East Harlem as well as the South Bronx:
Franciscan Handmaids of Mary Motherhouse Building to be Developed
Gotham To Go is reporting that 15 West 124th Street (the building to the west of the library) sold on February 11, 2019 for $9,400,000 to Harlem LLC. This building, the former Franciscan Handmaids home, will be redeveloped as housing overlooking Marcus Garvey Park.
Join The Greater Harlem Coalition on Thursday next week for a conversation with Mount Sinai who runs the methadone programs in the Lee Building (125th Street and Park Avenue). The Zoom Town Hall will be at 7:00 PM. Click here: To Register
East Harlem Vaccination Site Coming
Patch’s Nick Garber reports that the Mayor has said that East Harlem will be the side of a large-scale vaccination center.
East Harlem has always been a melting pot. I came across this recently and wondered what was now located on East 103rd Street.
The site is located next to the beautiful stone MetroNorth tracks and a trio of stone arches (one for cars, two for pedestrians) but is now a park run by NYRP. The New York Restoration Project – started by Bette Midler – got co-sponsorship from the Disney Corporation for a park overhaul.
Both the former yeshiva and the current Disney park bracket the mid-century life that Piri Thomas brought to the printed page in
his novel Down These Mean Streets which takes place right here, on East 103rd Street – across from the abandoned yeshiva, and before the Disney park.
State Senator Brian Benjamin: More Revelations Regarding Potentially Illegal Campaign Contributions
The City has more this morning about very questionable donations to State Senator Brian Benjamin. Observers are wondering how the Senator can run for an office whose primary mission is fiscal oversight when his own campaign missed contributions that clearly were made to make it appear as if more people were donating to his campaign. Instead of having Terry English donate $350, for example, Terry English donated $100, and English Terry topped that up with a ‘separate’ $250…
The three donors contacted by THE CITY who denied ever contributing to or even knowing of Benjamin were employed by a security firm called Prime Protective Bureau or PPB.
Also among the Murphy-directed $250 donations Benjamin’s campaign now pledges to return came from a PPB manager named Rashaun Dudley, who acknowledges making a contribution. His employer is listed as “student” in the records the Benjamin 2021 campaign submitted to the CFB.
PPB’s founder and CEO, Terry English, made a $100 money order contribution to Benjamin in July 2020, as did his wife, Sharon Doldron. A third, $250 money order donation to Benjamin is on record in the name of “English Terry,” dated Nov. 8, 2019 — coinciding with the start of the donations pooled by Murphy.
None of those three donations are among the 23 the campaign says it will be relinquishing to the Campaign Finance Board.
The Wall Street Journal has some sad new that the Alhambra Ballroom on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and 126th street is facing bankruptcy because of the lack of weddings, parties and other events that typically book the Alhambra.
The ballroom was renovated in 2003 and recently got a supermarket, below. This space has featured stars like Billie Holiday. And, while he didn’t go in the Alhambra, Fidel Castro held many press conferences in front of the Theresa Hotel, with the marquee of the Alhambra not far behind.
This morning The City has an explosive article on State Senator Brian Benjamin. Journalists reviewed the campaign donation records for the State Senator and found that some donations came from New Yorkers who’d never even heard of Senator Benjamin. Most sensationally, a 2-year old is one of the alleged donors to the Senator.
Brian Benjamin’s campaign promised to review over 20 donations worth thousands in public matching funds after THE CITY raised questions.
Adedokun, of Brooklyn, also had no clue how he ended up on the Benjamin donor list.
“I don’t know how they get my address. I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you — if I made a promise or made a pledge, I’m going to say to you I made a pledge. But, I never [did].”
Said Alonzo, of The Bronx: “It sounds like a scam…. This is just so random.”
The three men — and a toddler — are among 23 individuals who were recorded as giving donations to the Benjamin 2021 campaign fund via an intermediary named Michael Murphy. Each name is associated with a $250 money order, Campaign Finance Board records show.
While Senator Benjamin says he will return the funds, the question remains, given this, should he be New York’s next Comptroller – tasked with overseeing the billions of dollars spent by the city and our next mayor – when his own campaign missed a donation from a 2-year old who happens to be the grandson of a major Harlem developer, Jerry Migdol?
We look forward to hearing from the Senator and learning how he can justify asking New Yorkers to trust his ability to conduct financial oversight for the entire city given this scandal in his own house.
In the figure above, you can see how New York City has (for the last decade) lower opioid death rates than upstate New York. While often stigmatized as an urban problem, the opioid crisis it much more deadly beyond the 5 boroughs.
As we all know, Bill Perkins, particularly during this last session, has been unable to forcefully represent our community due to undisclosed issues. While he’s been propped up by his staff, crucial time and representation has been lost and Harlem has suffered unnecessarily.
2021 is an election year, and a number of candidates have jumped into the race for Perkins’ seat. Today, Keith Taylor, a neighbor and person I’ve worked with over the years, reached out to The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association to announce his candidacy for city council. We’ll try to schedule Keith Taylor to join us at an early 2021 HNBA meeting, so you can learn more, and decide if he’s your candidate for City Council – District 9.
Keith notes that he has spent almost 30 years in public service, starting as a social worker at Harlem Dowling and retiring as a commissioner fighting to reform Rikers Island. You can learn more about Keith here: Keith Taylor | John Jay College of Criminal Justice (cuny.edu). Given his role as an adjunct professor at John Jay and amazing professional experience, I confess I wanted to sign up for any number of his classes
Many of your have heard that Mayor De Blasio visited 125th Street in November after the Greater Harlem Coalition sent a letter to the Mayor. Elected officials have given an update to the community board this week regarding actions they have taken to mitigate the quality of life issues. See this post for more detail: Actions Taken Post Mayor Visit of 125th Street – Greater Harlem Coalition. Keep raising your concerns. This is how we can help our elected officials improve our quality of life.
As we approach December and a mid year reflection on how COVID has impacted children and their education, I wanted to present the pre-COVID data on graduation rates, broken down by ethnicity and race in 2018:
To see how our community compares to other NYC neighborhoods:
We are 2 days away from Harlem’s most creative virtual event this season! HBA is pleased to partner with AT&T and Experience Harlem to bring you the holiday event of the season! We know you love all things Harlem, that’s how we know you’ll love the Shop Harlem Virtual Fair. This will be an interactive social distancing event with lots of surprises and unique opportunities in store. Event highlights will include: We know you love all things Harlem, that’s how we know you’ll love the Shop Harlem Virtual Fair. This will be an interactive social distancing event with lots of surprises and unique opportunities in store. Event highlights will include:DJ Stormin Norman spinning live on the main stageInteractive booths featuring Harlem’s best shops and makersNetworking opportunities – where you can launch a video chat with anyone, one-on-one or in a groupSpecial guests who represent HarlemMuch more to comeThere’s no need to travel outside of Harlem to discover the perfect gift this holiday season. With scores of local entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists and artisans, there’s no better place to shop than the Shop Harlem Virtual Fair! Although this season is unlike any other let’s bring in the holidays the right way by supporting Harlem businesses throughout the holiday season. Free RSVP
Harlem, stand with us. We challenge 5,000 Harlemites to take the pledge to support Black-owned businesses this holiday season. With your help we can achieve this goal! 1. Share this blog post with your friends.
For those of you curious about the activity on the south side of East 126th Street between Park/Madison, I thought I’d submit the initial visualizations that Odyssey House presented:
The current site is being demolished and a new building will replace it.
A spokesperson for Odyssey House who I spoke to in November note that:
The plans for the development have not changed since we presented them to the community in 2016. The project will provide a mix of 15 permanent supportive housing units for special needs, single adults and six apartments for single low-income tenants. All tenants will have access to front desk coverage and on-site building maintenance. The supportive housing tenants will receive case management services, vocational training, recreational activities, and access to medical and psychiatric services through community-based providers.
Odyssey house expects construction on the project to be completed by the end of 2021.