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August 16, 2023



East Harlem's Supervised Injection Site Sees 2x the Number of Participants Compared to Washington Heights

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East Harlem Meets With Dr. Giftos and Walks Around The Neighborhood

Dr. Jonathan Giftos is the New York City's Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Alcohol & Drug Use: Prevention, Care and Treatment at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. In this role, he oversees NYC's investment in public health interventions to reduce drug-related harm.

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A group of eight neighbors from East Harlem met Dr. Jonathan Giftos and his colleague Maura Kennelly to show the Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene (DoHMH) what the community's experience and perspective is on living within an oversaturated neighborhood.  All eight neighbors live in the immediate neighborhood - oversaturated by OnPoint's supervised injection site and a number of other addiction treatment programs.  All of the neighbors noted how their mental health, physical health, and safety are all directly impacted by OnPoint's injection site that is funded by DoHMH and located across from low-income housing and a Harlem preschool. 

The hour and a half conversation allowed Dr. Giftos and Deputy Commissioner Kennelly the opportunity to hear from Harlem residents for the first time.  As we walked around the neighborhood we passed active drug dealing and active drug using while OnPoint was open.

The conversation is ongoing, but one of our key goals was to change the conversation in DoHMH.

We want New York City's DoHMH to end using the term 'community' to exclusively refer to a community of active drug users. We stressed that 'community' must encompass the residents, guests, and businesses of Harlem and East Harlem.

Our call for 'Community Harm Reduction' stands in contrast to the more limited 'Harm Reduction' model which systematically practices of packing addiction programs in low-income communities of color.

We look forward to a follow-up meeting with DoHMH to look at the community impact of addiction redlining on Harlem and East Harlem.


Opioid Crisis Doubles In Scale

The British Columbia (Canada) Coroners Service says that since the opioid public-health emergency was declared in 2016, the death rate from opioids has more than doubled (by January 2023).

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After 7 years of a public-health emergency, drug legalization, and opening over 20 overdose prevention centers, the deaths continue to increase. British Columbia's Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says in the statement that toxic drugs are an ever-present danger to anyone who uses illicit drugs.

In British Columbia an average of 6.8 lives are lost every day, and 80 per cent of those who died were male.


A Call For Research

Howard Husock - a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute - asks (in a NY Post Article) what do we need to know about supervised injection sites and their impact on Harlem's residents.

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We need to get accurate data on the impact of supervised injection sites (SISs) on the communities that surround them, in order to ammeleorate the SIS's impact on communities of color.   

1. involve tracking every individual who walks through OnPoint’s doors and out again.

2. How many continue to buy and use illegal drugs? 

3. How many overdose and die outside the “safe sites”?

4. How many are arrested for criminal acts in which they engage to get the funds to buy street drugs? 

5. How many sell drugs to finance their habit?

6. Who supplies their illegal drugs? 

7. How many are later found sleeping on subways — and must be shooed into shelters by transit cops?

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