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.