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Greater Harlem Coalition Logo

November 9, 2022



Millions Upon Millions Of Needles Distributed - Few Ever Recovered

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The Greater Harlem Coalition submitted a FOIL request to New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in February to compare how many syringes are distributed vs. recovered.

The numbers are shocking, and raise questions as to why the Department of Health is willing accept needle litter in our communities as the price to be paid for making syringes easily available to drug users.

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See the FOIL data from NYC's Department of Health
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See the FOIL data from NYC's Department of Health
  • Data are only available for ground syringes collected by, or given to, NYC Health Department-funded syringe litter staff in parks and other public spaces in Washington Heights, South Bronx, East Harlem, and Midtown.
  • Data do not include syringes recovered through other mechanisms or funding sources, through ad hoc syringe litter clean-up activities, or through routine clean-up conducted by other agencies, organizations, or individuals.
  • Data do not include syringes disposed in public syringe disposal kiosks.
  • Data cannot verify origin of syringes (e.g., if syringes were received from an SSP, a pharmacy, or a clinic), nor can data verify use of syringe (e.g., if the syringe were used to inject drugs or for any other purpose).
  • NYC SSPs conduct outreach to engage people who use drugs into SSP services, provide education about safer syringe use and disposal, and collect syringe litter.
  • Select NYC SSPs began reporting syringe litter clean-up activities in 2020. The NYC Health Department increased funding in 2021 for some SSPs to expand outreach and syringe litter collection in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, South Bronx, East Harlem, and Midtown.
  • In March 2021, the City funded six new outreach and syringe litter cleanup teams and substantially increased their capacity to collect ground syringes.
  • During Jan-Mar 2022, NYC Health Department-funded SSP outreach and syringe litter teams collected over 40,000 syringes, compared to approximately 15,000 syringes in the same months of 2020.




DHS Officials Say They Have No Plans to Introduce Safe Injection Sites In Shelters

City Limits reports that the opioid crisis is taking a heavy toll on New York City’s homeless population, with the number of overdoses inside city shelters reaching new heights in 2021.

Staff working in Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters recorded 632 overdoses in the six months between July 1 and December 31, 2021—the months immediately following the deadliest fiscal year on record for unhoused New Yorkers—according to statistics shared with City Limits in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. That’s up from 364 in the final six months of 2020 and 359 in the last half of 2019.

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Mayor Eric Adams said the city will use $150 million it received as part of a state settlement with opioid manufacturers to expand hours at existing OPCs and fund additional harm reduction strategies, including Street Health Outreach and Wellness (SHOW) mobile clinics and syringe exchanges.

DHS officials said they have no plans to introduce OPCs inside shelters where drugs are banned, but said they will use a new grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to establish a Harm Reduction Advisory Council, update policies to make them less punitive and provide Fentanyl test strips to shelter staff.


Lex & 3rd Block Association Joins GHC

The Greater Harlem Coalition welcomes another East Harlem member: The Lex & 3rd Block Association

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Parents Fearful of Sending Children to Play in Marcus Garvey Park

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Up to June 4, workers recovered 926 syringes this year around Marcus Garvey Park according to Department of Parks and Recreation data.

The Amsterdam News reports on how the oversaturation of drug treatment programs, harm reduction programs, drug dealers, and drug users, are impacting Marcus Garvey Park neighbors - particularly parents.

"As she walks along the main path, Raines-Heyden notices more paraphernalia lying around—there are no syringe disposal bins currently at the park. As the local artist passes a bathroom, another park goer pulls on the facility’s door. Locked. It’s around noon.

Raines-Heyden lives just a block away, but refuses to allow her pair of 12-year-olds to play at Marcus Garvey Park unattended. She says she regularly witnesses open drug use and recalls once almost getting blindsided by a would-be attacker."

“It’s not safe,” she said. “I like living in Harlem because it feels like a community—I say ‘good morning’ to my neighbors. There’s parks literally all around me, Morningside, Central Park…and I have Marcus Garvey. But I would not send my children to Marcus Garvey to play.”

“Our goal is to keep parkgoers safe—the fewer syringes on the ground the better,” said a Parks Department spokesperson. “That is why our staff is specially trained to remove and properly dispose of discarded needles.

“For the safety of all New Yorkers, we ask park patrons observing syringes in parks to report them to 311 so that our bloodborne pathogen-trained staff can locate and remove them.”

Report Syringe Litter to 311
Read the full article HERE
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