The city touted a new initiative to divert mental health crisis incidents to an East Harlem Diversion Center on East 116th Street as far back as 2014. By 2018, when Project Renewal acquired a lease for the new facility, the city committed to investing $9.5 million annually to serve about 2,400 people each year at the centers.
The centers were to be open at all hours and staff will not be allowed to turn away anybody brought in by police. At the same time, people brought to the centers must consent to receive services such as health care and social services. The centers would not be used as homeless shelters and the maximum stay allowed is 10 days depending on a person’s needs.
According to The City, Mayor de Blasio last week quietly changed the name of ThriveNYC — the heavily criticized $1 billion mental health program spearheaded by the city’s first lady, Chirlane McCray — to the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. The City also reports that the Diversion Center on 116th Street has served only 45 people since finally opening in November — coming out to $1.1 million per visit so far.
CBS News had a great piece last night on how Harlem and East Harlem are oversaturated with substance abuse programs which has attracted unprecedented numbers of illegal drug sellers who prey on the men and women seeking treatment.
Harlem residents showed the CBS reporter evidence of illegal drug sales and use – all concentrated around unsupervised addiction programs that are supposed to help New Yorkers get off drugs.
The President of MMPIA, the co-founder of The Greater Harlem Coalition, and others all showed the reporter video evidence and presented him with the data from FOIL requests to backup their claim that New York is dumping programs in Harlem and East Harlem that they don’t locate in other whiter and wealthier communities.
When asked for a statement, the Mayor’s office gave a non statement, and failed to answer why Harlem and East Harlem have more than their fair share of substance abuse programs.
To see the full video:
25th Precinct Community Council Meeting Next Week
The next 25th Precinct Community Council meeting is scheduled for:
A neighbor wrote to Governor Cuomo and OASAS recently, asking for them to address how the illegal drug trade (which congregates around the nexus of OASAS licensed addiction programs in our community) is impacted by OASAS decisionmaking. Zoraida Diaz (the OASAS NYC District Director) replied with a refusal to acknowledge the impact of decades of OASAS’s decisions that have oversaturated our community. She and OASAS are hiding behind an “it’s complicated” defense, and refusing to meet or begin a conversation.
Here’s the letter:
Please call: 646.728.4760 and ask why OASAS is failing to take responsibility for the oversaturation of addiction programs in Harlem and East Harlem and how this oversaturation attracts the illegal drug trade to our streets.
Mayor Visits East Harlem
Patch has an article on Sunday’s unannounced visit by the mayor to East Harlem to see the rampant drug dealing and quality of life issues that plague East 125th Street.
The article notes that:
Neighbors have complained of open heroin use, garbage strewn across East 125th Street, and human waste littering the sidewalks. This week, the city closed the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Playground on Lexington between East 122nd and 123rd streets at Ayala’s request after consistent drug use in the park left it virtually off-limits to parents and children.
The mayor toured 125th Street on Sunday to see how dire our quality of life issues are.
City Council Member Diana Ayala toured with the mayor.
Note that on Sunday the methadone clinics are closed and most of their client base uses their ‘take home’ allocation that is given to them on Saturday. So the mayor didn’t see the full extent of our issues.
Thanks to Uptown Grand Central for the photos!
In the case of an emergency in 17th century Dutch Harlem, residents beat a drum. After nearly a century of this practice, the ‘old stone church’ – Harlem’s first church, located at 127/1st Avenue -acquired the first-ever bell in Harlem. Note the Graveyard indicated by the red arrow, and the churchyard immediately below it in this early 20th-century sketch map of the Village of New Harlem:
When this original church was demolished, the bell passed to the Elmendorf Reformed Church which you may know as one of the driving forces behind publicizing and advocating for the Harlem African Burial Ground project.
The bell that the Elmendorf Reformed Church now has was cast in Holland. Among other metals, it is said to contain “twenty dollars worth of gold and twenty dollars worth of silver,” according to an article in The Harlem Traveller of 1861.
The venerable bell which was cast in Amsterdam, Holland, expressly for the Harlem Church in the year 1734. It remains on display in the rear of the sanctuary, the archive area of the church.
The inscription on the bell reads: AMSTERDAM Anno 1734 ME FECIT.
About a quarter of an acre connected with the original church at 1st Avenue and East 127th Street became known as the “Negro Burying ground”.
The first documented African Americans in New Harlem were slaves purchased in 1664 by the village’s settlers, who used slave labor to work their expansive farms and help build and maintain the settlement. By 1790 a census tally of the Harlem district found 115 slaves working upper Manhattan’s farms and estates, roughly one-third of the population.
It is not known when African Americans were first interred at Harlem’s original village burial ground but at some point, the eastern end of the graveyard was designated for that purpose. By 1771 it was formally identified as the “Negro Burying Ground” on historical documents.
For more on the Harlem African Burial Ground project, see:
20 Reasons Why New York and New Yorkers are Awesome
TimeOut NY has a great list of 20 reasons New York, even in this time of crisis, is an awesome place to live. We all, I think, need to be reminded how incredible this place is, and this article is a timely reminder: