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November 8, 2023


MEDIA REPORT - The New York Times

OnPoint's Impact on Harlem Residents Portrayed as Simply the Cost of Doing Business

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In August, the New York Times published a piece focused on one OnPoint employee who helps participants successfully and safely use/inject the drugs.  While focusing on what happens inside OnPoint, The New York Times ignores the impact that hundreds of drug users and their dealers conducting business on the streets of Harlem have on local businesses, children, tourism, and residents.

The Greater Harlem Coalition is asking for Community Harm Reduction, and an end to redlining Harlem as an addiction program containment zone 

While the New York Times mostly fawned over what occurs inside OnPoint, they did manage to briefly include the voice of one Harlem resident who has been profoundly impacted by the influx of dealers and users who congregate in front of the injection site.  This resident has lived on East 126th Street since the 1970s and thus has the most authentic perspective on how drug dealing and using has waxed and waned over the course of 50+ years:

 “If you don’t have the resources to make sure that people don’t spill out into community and make a nuisance of themselves, then you’re not helping.”


Harm Reduction is Community Harm

"One very important aspect of our drug crisis in NYC and the decision to open a safe injection site in a neighborhood already oversaturated with drug treatment centers, East Harlem, is the impact this has had on the local community. Since the opening of OnPoint, the street of its location and the surrounding blocks have experienced a dramatic increase in open air drug use and dealing. Information has been provided, not included in this article, that many addicts now travel to East Harlem to use OnPoint, the busier of the two safe injection sites opened in Manhattan several years ago. Washington Heights, the other location, has experienced the exact same issues with residents fearing to go out at night. This is the pattern in every city -- the dealers know where the addicts are and the addicts want a welcoming place to continue their addiction. When will the New York Times focus on the escalating concerns and the quality of life issues that impact residents of these communities? When will the New York Times write that article? It is a disgrace to these communities to have mention that residents are opposed at the same time you are portraying these safe injection sites as the saving grace to our drug crisis. It is not -- not only do they enable drug addicts -- they are destroying communities."

When will the New York Times write about the escalating concerns and the quality of life issues that impact the residents of Harlem?


A Look at the Boroughs

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The analysis of opioid treatment capacity, overdose death, and population in New York's 5 boroughs (above) shows how Manhattan has been oversaturated by the Office of Addiction and Support Services for decades.  Manhattan supports the residents of Queens and Staten Island in particular, who are notably underserved by addiction support programs.

Even comparing overdose rates to Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) shows how profoundly disproportionate the distribution of OTPs is in the 5 boroughs.

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