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Greater Harlem Coalition Logo

November 22, 2023



Mobile Methadone Vans Finally Arrive in Harlem

For 5 years, the Greater Harlem Coalition has worked tirelessly to engage NY State's Office of Addiction Support and Services (OASAS).  We have written letters, sent postcards, collected petition signatures, advocated through elected officials, and repeatedly invited OASAS to come to the table and meet with Harlem residents.  

Our goal was, and continues to be, a very simple one: to have OASAS acknowledge that our community is grossly oversaturated by OASAS licensed addiction treatment programs, and to join us in working towards de-densifying Harlem and East Harlem and working towards our central GHC goal of equity

Now, after 5 years of advocacy and activism, The Greater Harlem Coalition has won a significant victory in our march towards equitably balancing the number of addiction treatment programs in Harlem and East Harlem.  For the first time, New York State's Commissioner of the Office of Addiction Support and Services has publicly acknowledged that Harlem and East Harlem are oversaturated.  In addition, the OASAS commissioner has developed and funded a new mobile van that will distribute methadone and bring life-saving medication directly to people struggling with addiction.

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Ward's Island's shelter residents who are struggling with addiction will now be able to get the treatment they need, locally.

The OASAS Commissioner, Dr. Cunningham, acknowledged publicly that Harlem and East Harlem are oversaturated on CBS.

"We are trying to reduce the density of services and to spread them out more."

- OASAS Commissioner, Dr. Cunningham

The Greater Harlem Coalition is thrilled that OASAS is looking at innovative and creative solutions to address the unfair burden that Harlem and East Harlem have lived under for generations.


RIPA Joins The Greater Harlem Coalition

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The Randall's Island Park Alliance, Inc. (RIPA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works with the City of New York and local communities to provide a safe, healthy, and joyful outdoor respite for all, especially for our neighbors in Harlem. RIPA is now the newest member of The Greater Harlem Coalition. 

Park visitors have access to cultural events and programming, sports venues, and environmental exploration, and much more. From cooking workshops and cocktail nights on the farm using freshly harvested produce to yoga classes and themed festivals, RIPA's Public Programs team strives to offer programming that is accessible and engaging for all ages, abilities, and interests—all free. We're always looking to amplify and support the work, talents, and missions of local organizations through partnerships and program offerings and are excited and grateful to continue working together to build a happier and healthier Harlem community.

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NY Governor Questions Injection Sites' Funding and Legality

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Crains is reporting on how NY Governor Hochul is increasingly distancing herself from supervised injection sites like those run by OnPoint.  

The governor has refused to fund overdose prevention centers with opioid settlement money, citing concerns about the legality of government-sanctioned drug use.  

Additionally, Hochul affirmed in a press conference earlier this month that she would not use opioid settlement funds to support these centers, stating that the money must go to efforts that would “withstand legal challenge.” Hochul referenced a statement from the U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, who told the New York Times this summer that overdose prevention centers are operating in violation of the law until they are authorized by local officials, noting that his office would consider enforcement.

Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the governor, said that “there is no plan at this time to fund safe injection sites.”

In addition, questions swirl around OnPoint and how effective the millions of dollars it spends is in reducing overdose deaths - note that overdose death rates in East Harlem and Harlem have both increased since OnPoint began operations.  In a NYS settlement fund advisory board meeting, some members also brought up concerns regarding spending. 

Anne Constantino, a board member and former CEO of Horizon Health Services in Buffalo, said she was worried that the board’s recommendations were not guided by an integrated, strategic plan:

“Spending is not a plan, spending is something that helps a plan to be achieved,” Constantino said. “I have a very real concern that we’re talking about billions of dollars that are being spent towards no vision or strategy.”

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Constantino also called for reporting of metrics that track whether programs that are funded by the settlement funds are successful.

Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, the commissioner of OASAS, said they are in the midst of developing a plan.

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