Longwood drug rehab plan stirs community opposition

Councilman Salamanca (c) expressed his and the community’s concerns regarding Longwood’s proposed state rehabilitation and clinical treatment facility.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Rafael Salamanca’s Office

A plan to site an inpatient drug rehabilitation program is sparking controversy and concerns about over-saturation of social programs.

Community Board 2 organized a rally on Wednesday, June 5 to oppose a plan by Light of Hope Services to locate a 50-bed inpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation program, known as an 820 program, in a building currently under construction at 915 Dawson Street.

CB 2 had already rejected the proposal in a written opinion to the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services on Friday, May 24 after Light of Hope Services made its presentation to CB 2’s Housing Committee in April.

The committee felt that the number of social programs nearby, as well as two schools in the immediate area made the site unsuitable and that the area already had its fair share of programs, said Ralph Acevedo, CB 2 district manager.

It offered to help the provider find an alternate location, but Light of Hope refused to change its plans, said Acevedo.

“We were not saying ‘not in our backyard,’” said Acevedo. “We were tying to say let’s find somewhere else more appropriate.”

Acevedo said the board felt that Dawson Street and Intervale Avenue, two densely populated streets, was the wrong location for a transitional program.

“Light of Hope was just not willing work with us,” said the district manger. “We know the state makes the ultimate call, we just hope that everything is taken into consideration.”

The committee in its letter cited a new senior residence in the immediate area, four supportive housing programs in a three-block radius, a substance abuse provider one block away, and a needle exchange program two blocks away, as evidence that the area was saturated.

“Although…the clients will be on 24-hour lock down, the committee strongly feels that this part of the district is oversaturated with support services and the committee needs to account for the community interest,” stated the committee in its letter to OASAS.

Councilman Rafael Salamanca said that he believes it is only right that other communities in the borough shoulder these types of programs as well.

“Not everyone that is addicted to opioids is from the south Bronx; it is a borough wide and citywide issue,” said Salamanca. “They come from Throggs Neck, Morris Park and Riverdale, but the programs are in my district.”

The Light of Hope program will operate by referral, meaning the patients may not necessarily live in the community or even the borough, said Salamanca.

The councilman said that the proposed program was already rejected by Community Board 1 before the new site was chosen.

Guillermina Martinez of Light of Hope said that they were siting the program where it was most needed.

“We can’t continue to deny the facts of the drug epidemic in our back yard,” said Martinez.

In a written statement, the organization took issue with the committee’s treatment of their proposal, indicating that it was not given the consideration it should have gotten.

The organization’ statement urged CB 2 to reconsider, stating that its primary intent is to return those afflicted by addiction back to full and productive lives.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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