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Greater Harlem Coalition Logo

September 21, 2022


"I am sure there is a way they can receive help without residents being put in harm’s way."

In early August, GHC reached out to you, our 1800+ members, and asked you a a few simple questions, including, “What would you’d like to say to our elected officials regarding the systemic oversaturation of Harlem?" and, "What has its impact been on you, your family, your neighbors, and your community?”

In your responses, you spoke of deep concern for your community and how life has changed for you. Starting last week and over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing your voices across key themes.  This week, we focus on the impact that has been felt by children and families.

There was great concern about children regularly witnessing drug activities on the streets.

Here is what GHC members said:

  • “The over-saturation has greatly decreased every family's overall quality of life, safety & options for outdoor life. It has impacted our health due to emotional & psychological stress & fear of harm by violent & unpredictable drug addicts who lunge at us, harass us for money & even break into our buildings & rob us. They shoot up in groups in front of our kids, blocking whole streets causing us to switch streets so many times a short walk to supermarket becomes a long convoluted walk. We have had enough. We don't want our children surrounded by this terrible model for their future.”
  • “Harlem has become a place that is difficult to raise kids. Kids are suffering by seeing drug addicted people on the streets, and now in the parks near playgrounds. There are needles left in the parks and streets, anywhere in Harlem. We tell kids not to go into the grass in the park when we walk a dog as they can get hurt.”
  • “I have to take my kids to school through blocks full of drug addicts. They see this every day.”
  • “Please help us get the severely mentally disabled people, the guns, knives and drugs off the street in Harlem. Harlem right now is complete mayhem. Please hurry - our children’s lives are at stake. We don't feel safe AT ALL.”
  • “116 St. bet Park and Mad. isn't a living room for drug users and dealers; it’s a public sidewalk! Families need to walk without seeing users shooting up and others waiting for their fix or doubling over after getting it!”

Some asked how to rectify a situation in which the attempt to reduce harm to those with substance use disorder is leading to increased harm to the community at large and to children in particular.

  • “We are unsafe, being assaulted daily. Drug addicts should not be on our streets.. They are injecting drugs in front of us, and our kids day and night (even in their private parts)… It's not just their mental health and their lives - it's about our lives it should matter too, thousands of residents who suffer because of a small group of addicts who occupied our streets. We have kids; they shouldn't be exposed to this. They deserve to be raised like in other wealthier neighborhoods. We don't want all NY drug addicts in our area.”
  • “…my husband has been sucker punched, I have been approached numerous times by people both with and without children with me. People that do not seem in their right mind, [who] sometimes seem harmless and many times do not. I have been harassed on the street. Have seen several people exposing themselves. I have also on multiple occasions, passed more than one drug deal occurring while walking to pick my son up from school. I also have felt cornered while entering my home and being approached by someone who was not responding as if they were in their right mind…These issues above are daily/weekly occurrences that affect our safety and peace while living here. We agree people need help. I am sure there is a way they can receive help without residents being put in harm’s way.”

GHC will share our collective responses with our elected officials, including our Harlem and East Harlem City Council members. You can also share your experiences with Council Members Jordan (Central Harlem) and Ayala (East Harlem) directly. 

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Lakeview Tenants Association Joins GHC

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The Lakeview Tenants’ association of East Harlem - between 107/106th Streets on 5th Avenue, with 446 member units - has joined The Greater Harlem Coalition.

We look forward to working with them on fostering a Harlem that thrives.


Harlem's Injection Site's Utilization Data Highlights the Daily Flow of Money to Organized Crime

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The Wall Street Journal has a great report on how two drug cartels in Mexico came to supply most of the fentanyl sold and used in this country. This synthetic opioid has played a significant role in the explosion of overdose deaths throughout the United States with the WSJ reporting that more than 65% of the overdose deaths in 2020 were rlated to synthetic opioids. 

Fentanyl sales and use is an ongoing issue in Harlem, and OnPoint, the organization that runs the safe injection site in East Harlem, offers test kits to users to determine if the drugs that will be consumed onsite are laced with fentanyl. Using OnPoint’s published data, GHC has been able to estimate that drugs used inside the OnPoint facility put more than $414,160 into the hands of organized crime. 

Beyond the dangers of individuals using fentanyl, the WSJ article points out that the cartels are making fentanyl because it's cheap to produce and the synthetic opioid is being placed in all of their drug products and being spread throughout the cartels' existing sales networks. 

  • Projected annual usage in OnPoint: 41,416
  • At approximately $10/use, $414,160 per year is therefore projected to flow into the Mexican drug cartel's ecosystem in 2022 from inside OnPoint's facility

This, of course, is a fraction of the usage in our community. In other published data, OnPoint, has reported that they had safely disposed of 472,670 syringes by June of this year. If we use the same $10/use estimate, this data would predict that over $9,000,000 per year is flowing into the coffers of organized crime - just from the drugs identified by OnPoint's syringe litter pickup program.

  • Expected annual syringe pickup total: 945,340
  • At approximately $10/use, $9,453,400 per year is therefore projected to flow into the Mexican drug cartel's ecosystem in 2022 from outside OnPoint's facility (as identified through their syringe pickup program)

While OnPoint is supporting those with substance use disorder, a question remains: how does the implicit condoning of drug sales in Harlem benefit organized crime to the detriment of our beloved neighborhood?

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