The oversaturation of substance use programs in Harlem and East Harlem has been proven repeatedly. Our community hosts many more programs than are justified by our population, by our addiction rates, or even by drug-related death rates.
One question remains, where do patients who are admitted to New York City substance abuse programs come from?
Using data from a 2020 FOIL request to OASAS on admission data, I have mapped where patients who attend NYC’s substance abuse programs come from. The result is fascinatingly national. From San Diego to Maine, from Miami Beach to Anchorage Alaska, men and women are admitted to New York addiction programs.
In the maps below, the red dots indicate the homes of people who are admitted to New York City’s substance abuse programs. The larger and darker the red, the greater number of admitted patients.
The fine print:
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 Data Source: NYS OASAS Data Warehouse, CDS extract of 8/30/2020
Admissions are not counts of individual people. A person can be admitted to treatment more than once throughout the time period.
The data included in this presentation represent only admissions of patients to the OASAS‐certified treatment system. It is important to keep in mind that these data do not include individuals who do not enter treatment, get treated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), go outside of New York State for treatment, are admitted to hospitals but not to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment, get diverted to other systems, or receive an addictions medication from a physician outside of the OASAS system of care.
Data includes significant others.
Admissions are not limited to residents of NYC
To see the live map (you can hover over a dot to learn more):
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!
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.
As for which district is not receiving its fair share of drug treatment capacities? Data speaks for itself
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.
Tonight CB11 will have a full board meeting and discuss budget priorities. Harlem Neighborhood Block Association is asking for two things to be highlighted in the budgetary report including:
We are requesting a City Council analysis of the distribution of addiction programs throughout the five boroughs, with a mandate to recommend how the rebalancing of these programs can be implemented. In conjunction, we are requesting a City Council agreement on a moratorium of any new or expanded addiction programs in CB11.
New York City must address how the persistence of OASAS and DOHMH licensed addiction programs in CB11 that exceed community need (and primarily serve New Yorkers from other communities) – is a form of systemic racism.
OASAS and DOHMH have quietly avoided acknowledging that their siting decisions are not based on their own data regarding proportionate community need, but are racially and economically driven instead, and along with indifferent city agencies and politicians, they routinely oversaturate Black and Latinx communities with the addiction programs that wealthier and whiter neighborhoods reject.
The impact of this decades-in-the-making form of systemic racism has been to brutalize the quality of life for East Harlem residents, degrade the economic viability of the East Harlem business community, and discourage tourism and development in the 125th Street and Lexington Avenue corridors.
Marcus Garvey Park is a jewel in our community. We ask that CB11 request and advocate for security cameras to be installed in this park to enhance public safety for the children, teens, families, and residents who enjoy it.
The Schomburg has an amazing collection of oral history of Harlem residents. Some names you’ll certainly know as big-name political and cultural figures. Others, are neighbors:
This is a neighborhood oral history project that works to both preserve and document Harlem history through the stories of people who have experienced it. This project will collect oral histories of people who have lived or worked in the surrounding Harlem neighborhood and train community members to conduct these interviews. Both longtime and more recent residents are invited to share their neighborhood stories, documenting Harlem’s past and present history. Interviews will be preserved at The Milstein Division, available in a circulating collection, and accessible here at the New York Public Library website.