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Greater Harlem Coalition Logo

August 2, 2023



How New York's Right-to-Shelter Impacts Homelessness

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HUD has a great summary of 2022 homelessness data from across the country.


Aardvark Alley Films Joins GHC

Aardvark Alley Films is an independent film and events production company founded by
filmmaker, educator and activist, Savanna Washington. 

“Aardvark Alley Films is where art meets activism to work towards a better world.”

 Aardvark's latest film, “Playing Frisbee in North Korea,” will have its U.S. national broadcast on PBS this fall. This spring Aardvark produced film programs for the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. The three programs were part of the Spring series, “World Humanity & Economy: Dreams Deferred But Not Forgotten.” 

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On Harlem Savanna says: 

“I love Harlem. Harlem is a special place with a storied history. It’s important to preserve its history and fight for the well-being of our community. Right now the city and state has used our community as a dumping ground and over-saturated us with drug injection sites and methadone clinics that they wouldn’t think of trying to put in Tribeca or the Upper West Side, especially across the street from a public school. This is still the work of social justice that has to be done in our community.”

A NYT Guest Essay by Maia Szalavitz

The New York Times has a nuanced guest essay by Maia Szalavitz, a recovered former cocaine and heroin addict, on the complexity of applying the framework of 'free will' to people suffering from addiction

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"Research now shows that addiction doesn’t ‌‌mean either being completely subject to irresistible impulses, or making totally free choices. Addiction’s effects on decision-making are complex. Understanding them can help policymakers, treatment providers and family members aid recovery."

The essay, which foregrounds compassionate harm reduction approaches, notes the overwhelming numbers of people afflicted by addiction, who were traumatized earlier in childhood.

The majority of people who do get hooked have other psychiatric disorders, traumatic childhoods or both — only ‌7 percent report no history of mental illness. ‌‌Nearly 75 percent of women with heroin addiction‌‌ were sexually abused as children — and most people with any type of addiction have suffered at least one and often many forms of childhood trauma‌‌.


Second Chance in Albany Has the Receipts on How Recovery-Focused Programming Works

The Rockefeller Institute has a new report out on Second Chance Opportunities - an Albany, NY based program that is having real, demonstrated success in assisting individuals in recovery from substance-use disorder

Many of these individuals face a number of significant challenges in maintaining their sobriety. They must build new connections with a community of people that will be supportive of their sobriety. Many individuals face barriers to securing employment, such as lack of identification, inconsistent employment histories, or criminal justice involvement. People in recovery must find housing in a safe environment that enables abstinence but face impediments like financial insecurity that make such housing difficult to obtain. Every individual working to maintain their recovery has a unique history and set of obstacles they must work to overcome.

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Second Chance Opportunities (SCO) is an organization built over two decades that supports individuals in their recovery journeys. Headquartered in Albany, they offer a range of wraparound services to address the needs of people in recovery from substance-use disorder. SCO formed in 2001 when a group of people with lived experience of the barriers individuals in recovery face started to work together to help others overcome these barriers. They saw a need for sober housing among people leaving treatment and started offering recovery-focused housing rentals in Albany. In 2014, they recognized the challenges individuals faced in finding employment and established a janitorial services company to create recovery focused jobs that help individuals develop professional skills, achieve financial security, and move into their next career phase. In 2018, SCO opened its doors as a recovery community center. It offers coaching to individuals in recovery, sober programming and community building for people in need, and works to build awareness about addiction and recovery across the broader community.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government was commissioned by SCO to measure the impact of its recovery community center, employment services, and recovery housing on individuals it works with and the broader community. The report that was produced, details the work of SCO and the role it plays in the Capital Region, with a focus on its efforts since opening as a recovery community center in 2018. It provides an overview of the individuals served by SCO, presents information about the wide range of services offered, discusses the development of employment opportunities, and details the role housing plays for individuals who work with SCO. Ultimately, the scope of services offered by SCO—while it is clearly defined here—is flexible to the needs of an individual and is catered to each person on a case-by-case basis. The report concludes by discussing the fiscal impacts SCO creates by supporting individuals in recovery and preventing active use.

Key findings of this report include:

1,361 individuals have been served by SCO since 2018 with 336 intakes in 2022. Two-out-of-three individuals are male; approximately half are people of color.

97 percent of those served are seeking recovery coach support. This is a mentor who is themselves in recovery that helps individuals navigate their individual journey through recovery.

81 tenants served in recovery housing in 2022. 154 people have used recovery housing since it was established. The average stay is 18.7 months.

185 people worked on SCO’s janitorial contracts in 2022 for a total payroll of $3.8 million and an average hourly wage of $21.60.

$13,200 - amount of costs saved annually by state and local governments for every individual who maintains their recovery and avoids active use.

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