"Once OPCs were operating in NYC, local Community Board members and other local leaders were invited to tour the sites and see the services firsthand. This has been a powerful tool to demystify OPCs and educate observers about harm reduction. It was helpful, in terms of building community support, that OnPoint already had strong community relationships developed over more than 20 years of operating an SSP. As a result of OnPoint NYC’s consistent community engagement, many community leaders and elected officials have grown to appreciate their work and now serve as strong advocates for OPC services. Some have even called for the expansion of OPC services to other boroughs.
"The city also faced opposition from community boards and several advocacy groups in East Harlem and Washington Heights. In East Harlem, in particular, the local community board felt that the opening of an OPC in their community would contribute to an existing “oversaturation” of social and addiction services in the area. Below is an excerpt from a letter to the NYC Health Department, Community Board 11, regarding oversaturation concerns, May 17, 2022:
"Like, so many other low-income communities of color, East Harlem has been burdened with hosting more than its fair share of social service facilities, including an oversaturation of mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. Individuals from not just the five boroughs but as far as Westchester and Long Island participate in programs in our community. This has created a strain on resources and contributed to a range of quality of life and public safety concerns for years on end.
"It has remained critical that the NYC Health Department continue to highlight the connection to services/care provided at OPCs, including provision of substance use disorder treatment on-site or through referrals. Since the OPCs opened, briefings for community stakeholders have continued and now include information about the benefits and successes of the OPCs while providing a forum to respond to community questions."
Giglio, R.E., Mantha, S., Harocopos, A. et al. The Nation’s First Publicly Recognized Overdose Prevention Centers: Lessons Learned in New York City. J Urban Health (2023). doi.org/10.1007/s11524-023-00717-y