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November 15, 2023



NYC Is Not Abiding By Fair Share Distribution

New York City's Comptroller - Brad Lander - has highlighted the city's repeated failure to both abide by its doctrine of Fair Share distribution of city resources and programs, and to keep data on this effort.

Last week, The City reported on the Comptroller's findings and quoted two Greater Harlem Coalition leaders: Shawn Hill and Eva Chan.  In the article, The City noted the unequal distribution of city services, programs, amenities, parks, and more.  This multifaceted inequity has been at the core of the Greater Harlem Coalition's activism since our founding.  GHC has repeatedly demanded that all New York neighborhoods take their fair share in order to improve service and program outcomes.

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Comptroller Lander noted that while some facilities, such as early childhood centers, police precincts and fire stations are fairly distributed, others — including homeless shelters, waste transfer sites, parks and social services facilities, which includes substance abuse disorder treatment programs and mental health centers — are concentrated in just some communities.

“What the audit found over and over and over again is that the city is failing to comply with basic transparency requirements,” Lander said to THE CITY.

Among his recommendations, Lander urges local government to establish clear oversight over Fair Share compliance and provide public information on facilities locations, including details on their capacity and concentration. Lander said, “Sometimes, that shows you your neighborhood is being treated unfairly. Sometimes it’ll call bullshit on people’s fair share claims. Right now, quite often, everyone will say we’re doing more than our fair share,” he added. “And it’s not possible to analyze whether that’s true or false.”

The report also shows that the neighborhoods of Harlem, East Harlem and Midtown have disproportionate concentrations of social services, such as mental health services and substance abuse treatment centers.

For Harlem residents, the audit’s finding comes as no surprise. The Greater Harlem Coalition has, for over 5 years now, conducted its own distributional analysis of drug treatment programs, supportive housing, harm reduction programs and homeless shelters, and found disproportionate concentrations in our community.

“I want to make it very clear that NIMBY-ism is pushing back against equity in the absence of data,” Hill said. “And Harlem is saying the data shows that not just recently, but literally for generations, New York City and New York State had been packing Harlem and East Harlem with programs, facilities that they have not placed equitably in other wealthier and whiter neighborhoods.”

Eva Chan added:

“This inequitable distribution of services — either services that people want or services that people don’t want — is, to me, structural racism, which is the most insidious form of racism.”

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The National Opioid Crisis Is Reflected in Dramatic Increases in Childhood Opioid Poisonings

Nearly 7% of children who die of opioids

were ages zero to 4

  • In 2021, 6,000 youth across the country died from drugs
  • 4,800 (or 80%) of those deaths involving fentanyl
  • Overdose deaths are the second most common cause of death for American children, behind car accidents but about equal to homicide & suicides in leading overall deaths
  • 81% of childhood opioid deaths were unintentional
  • Five percent were suicides and 2.4% were homicides. 
  • For children younger than 5, nearly a quarter of overdose deaths were labeled homicides; among infants, it was closer to 35%.

Since 2018, Teen (14-18) drug deaths have grown faster than any other age group (+152%) and have been driven by fentanyl.  This is about 3x faster than the U.S. all ages growth rates

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    38% of children who die of opioids, die in their homes



    New York's Children Increasingly Experience Drug Dealing And Using As Normative Adult Behavior

    A joint investigation between the NBC New York I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga revealed dozens of New York City day care centers are surrounded by the drug trade, causing some operators to treat their facilities more like fortresses to keep kids distanced from persistent street-level fentanyl dealing:

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    In Harlem, the Association to Benefit Children, a day care center supervising up to 61 school-aged kids, has had 71 drug arrests within 100 meters of its front door in the first half of this year. The facility has bulletproof glass on its windows and operates across the street from a clinic where people struggling with drug addiction can safely inject themselves. The operator of the Harlem day care did not respond to a request for comment, but some neighbors said the injection clinic has brought the problems associated with drug addiction too close to the sidewalks that kids use to get to and from the day care.


    On average, day cares had about one drug arrest within 100 meters of its front door, roughly 320 feet – or about the length of a football field. Given the population density of New York City, a single nearby drug arrest in six months isn’t surprising. But more than 80 child care facilities had more than 12 drug arrests near their front door. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, most drug sales now involve deadly fentanyl.


    “The other thing you’ll hear from communities, and I absolutely agree with is, is that there is an overconcentration of services for people who have substance abuse issues in certain communities,” Brennan said. “And so the drug dealers go to those areas because they know people who have substance abuse issues are coming there. And they will set up there.”


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    1,500 CHILDREN

    Opioids and Child Poisonings

    How can we avoid the childhood collateral damage of drug use?


    Opioids have become the leading cause of child poisonings in the United States. More than 1,500 children died in fatal overdoses involving fentanyl in 2021, according to one study; over 100 were children under the age of 4.


    Officials have not confirmed whether fentanyl was the cause of death for Nicholas Feliz Dominici, the 1-year-old who died in the Bronx on Sept. 15, but three other children from the same day care were hospitalized that day after they were exposed to fentanyl. Days after the child died, the police discovered a trap door under a play area concealing large, clear storage bags filled with narcotics. The day care’s operator and a man who lived in the apartment that housed the day care have been arrested and charged with murder and criminal drug possession.

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