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December 21, 2022


MEDIA REPORT: THE CITY Asks... "Saving Lives or Ruining the Neighborhood?" 

The City just published a "one year later" article on the nation's first safe injection site and how it has attracted drug dealers and drug users from outside the neighborhood. Drug arrests are up. Community complaints have skyrocketed.

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The article presents the voices of many Harlem residents who have noticed an increase in illegal behavior and quality of life issues since the safe injection site opened:

“I have witnessed things I’ve never seen before,” D’Alessio wrote in an email to THE CITY: “including brazenly open dealing, people defecating (in broad daylight), users with needles openly using injection drugs … and even a man receiving oral sex between parked cars.”

He added that he saw all of that within “a radius of one block from OnPoint NYC during operating hours.”

Neighbors who live nearby are keenly aware that Harlem had already been oversaturated for decades.  New York State's Office of Addiction Services and Supports has repeatedly licensed addiction treatment programs for non-Harlem residents located in Harlem and East Harlem.  The systemic packing of treatment programs in Manhattan's most vulnerable community is not lost on community members:

To musician and local resident Jermaine Armstead, this is the last thing the neighborhood needs. Armstead referenced the late Lou Reed’s lyrics from the 1967 Velvet Underground song “Waiting for the Man,” while discussing his dislike of OnPoint’s supervised injection center.

“He talked about coming up to Harlem, to Lexington 125, to cop heroin, right?,” said Armstead. “And that area is still the same. It’s because it’s overly saturated with these methadone clinics that don’t work, right? So I think that the safe injection site was like the icing or the tipping point for this particular area because now folks can legally go and shoot up.”

"Sam Rivera, the executive director of OnePoint NYC, said that none of what’s happening outside of their location should be attributed to the safe injection site.

“'The belief is that the drugs in the community are attracting people from around the city, but that has nothing to do with programs like mine. This has nothing to do with the neighborhood itself,' stated Rivera in an email to THE CITY."

Read the full article HERE


The Growth of Fentanyl In America's Drug Supply

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The online journal Quartz has an analysis of DEA data on nearly 67,000 illegal opioid seizures or undercover buys.  The data shows that:

  • In 2013, 99% of the illegal opioid market was for pure heroin, and 1% was fentanyl 
  • In 2021, only 23% was heroin, while 52% was fentanyl and 16% a mix.

In the graph below you can see how heroin (the grey line) has been dropping since 2013, whereas Fentanyl (the purple line) has been steadily growing - as has the blue "mix" line.

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Vancouver's Safe Injection Sites and Overdose Deaths

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While the data shows that safe injection sites do not reduce overdose deaths, they do, however, reduce EMS calls and Emergency Room Visits - combining to represent millions of dollars in (societal) savings.

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