Third Ave. BID, SACHR program to improve quality-of-life

Commemorating its 30-year anniversary, St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction (SACHR) launched a new program on Wdnesday, November 20 in partnership with the Third Avenue Business Improvement District to better improve the quality-of-life in the south Bronx.

The Corner-to-Corner Good Neighbor Program’s goal and purpose is to promote community organizing, neighborhood identity, and harm reduction principles to reduce stigma and address neighborhood concerns of drug use and other issues.

SACHR’s grassroots work began with a needle exchange program to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS among intravenous drug users in the south Bronx. Providing syringe access and disposal continues to be a critical part of its harm reduction efforts.

“SACHR has a long-standing commitment to our community,” said Joyce Rivera, chief executive officer of SACHR. “First organized on the streets of the south Bronx and then at St. Ann’s Church, our 30-year history has made serving the community a priority of our work. The Corner to Corner Good Neighbor Program formalizes our external work while renewing our roots in organizing and neighborhood mobilization while creating a holistic approach to community that addresses stigma and quality-of-life matters head on.”

The program components include: a peer-led neighborhood watch program, community advisory council, quarterly neighborhood organizing workshops, implementation of 24/7 continuous access drop-in center feasibility study, monthly harm reduction education workshops, streetscape and beautification measures, sidewalk maintenance, syringe outreach response team, syringe litter removal and street activation programming.

SACHR and the Third Avenue BID will provide regular briefings to community boards 1 and 2, the Hunts Point Longwood Community Coalition, and the Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project.

Michael Brady, executive director of the Third Avenue BID, which promotes growth, vitality and visibility of the Bronx’s most trafficked commercial corridor, said the new program sends a message about harm reduction and drug use helping to save lives.

“We have a lot of folks in the hub who are working through their addiction —whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, opioids or heroin, and the Good Neighbor Program is a mechanism by which those same individuals can partake in a campaign to actually value the neighborhood,” Brady said. “So anything from syringe litter cleanups, painting murals and planting — all of those are elements of the Good Neighbor Program.”

According to Brady, the goal is to bring storeowners and businesses together with peers to take back the streets and build a collective value in the community.

The organization began working with SACHR roughly a year-and-a-half ago focusing on the opioid crisis and substance misuse at the hub, growing its partnership by creating a 24/7 Drop-In Center for its most vulnerable Bronxites, and other programs to help the neighborhood.

“Throughout the yearlong-and-a-half partnership that we’ve had thus far, we have been able to get to the paradigm in harm reduction as it pertains to the business community and really address the neighborhood concerns that are associated with drug use and fail,” Brady said.

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