Participatory Budgeting: The People’s Budget
along with the rest of the projects featured in the Design by Community series. Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. Residents on Staten Island's North Shore
Is the Garment Center Out of Fashion?
dependent on each other they are." Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. These days, the Garment District is WNYC Studios
Free Summer Stuff: NYC's Public Pools
WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. When it's hot, over 50 free public pools in NYC become a real life saver. WNYC Studios Nicola Free Summer Stuff: NYC's Public Pools As part of WNYC’s Affordability Project, we’re collecting strategies for free summer entertainment. And when it's hot, the over 50 free public pools in New York City become a real life-saver for many residents, especially kids whose parents aren’t spending (or can't afford to spend) big bucks for summer camp. What are some of your other free summer activities? Tweet @WNYC with #affordnyc or comment below. Click on "LISTEN" to hear from kids and adults at one pool in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on a recent 90 degree day. And good news: The pool season has been extended to September 10th! Co-published with WNYC Studios.
Birth of the NYC Co-op. Thank You, Finland.
WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. To understand why cooperative apartments The Alku Toinen, founded by Finns, in Sunset Park. Paige Cowett/WNYC Birth of the NYC Co-op. Thank You, Finland. Unlike other cities in the U.S., cooperative apartments outnumber condos in New York City three to one. To understand why the city has this unique dominance of coops, you have to visit Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Alku and Alku Toinen are the names of the two buildings that make up the first not-for-profit, housing cooperative in New York City. Located just east of the park, the co-op was established back when this area was known as "Finntown" because of the large Finnish population. Rather than rent in tenement-style buildings, a few of the Finns decided to pool their money to build buildings and set up a housing cooperative called the Finnish Home Building Association. This was 1916, and the idea took off. Ten years later, 25 Finnish coops were established in the area, and the idea spread throughout New York City. This summer, the Alku and Alku Toinen celebrated its 100th birthday (one year late) with a courtyard potluck. The original socialist spirit that inspired the creation of the co-op is still alive to this day. The entertainment for the 100th birthday party of the Finnish Home Building Association. (Paige Cowett/WNYC) Co-published with WNYC Studios.
Does This Avocado Toast Come With A Side of Gentrification?
Sunset Park, to an apartment he shares with roommates. Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. Businesses like Avocaderia are creating jobs in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. But at what cost?
There Went the Neighborhood
TGTN Launch (Richard Yeh) The team behind There Goes the Neighborhood talks about what they've learned throughout the process of making the podcast, and how to move forward in a post-gentrified Brooklyn. Where do we go from here? How do we reconcile with what now seems the inevitability of gentrification not just in Brooklyn, but nationwide? Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process. WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 9. Co-published with WNYC Studios and
Mouth to Ear
WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 1. Co-published with WNYC Studios and WNYC Studios A row of brownstones in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Rents in some Brooklyn neighborhoods have doubled and tripled in recent years. The Nation and WNYC Studios partner for an eight-week series that explains the political and economic process behind gentrification—who wins, who loses, and who gets pushed out. By Kai Wright Joshua Jacobo has lost count of how many places he’s lived in his adult life. He estimates he’s on his 15th room; he’s just turned 29. His family has been in East New York, Brooklyn, since the 1940s, so he’s got roots here. Those connections keep him from becoming homeless. When he’s between rooms or needs to avoid his landlord, he crashes with his grandmother. When he gets evicted, friends and family help find someone willing to put him up for less than $500 a month. There are many reasons for Joshua’s housing churn—he’s got a criminal record; he’s had fights with neighbors. But whatever the particulars, the real issue is that he’s poor, and housing instability is a defining trait of poverty today, as rents have skyrocketed and safety nets have been shredded. Since 2008, over half of poor renters nationwide have spent the majority of their income on housing. This is the crisis that lurks beneath the fights over gentrification. In black and Latino neighborhoods across the country, housing is a deeply contested commodity. Developers targeting young professionals and global investors have sent a surge of capital into places where public and private dollars once fled. Families in these areas that never escaped the recession are now feeling the shove. There Goes the Neighborhood abandons the predictable debates over gentrification and instead examines the political and economic process behind it. Listen each week at TheNation.com, or download it anywhere you get your podcasts. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
'Brooklyn, We Go Hard'
WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 2. Co-published with WNYC Studios and WNYC Studios East New York resident Joshua Jacobo. East New York is the starting point for Mayor de Blasio's vision to rezone much of the city with a central goal: more affordable housing. So what's the reaction to rezoning from the people who live in East New York? Take a ride down Atlantic Avenue with Joshua Jacobo, a 29-year-old musician and aspiring music producer. Hear what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood -- and what it's like to survive there now, feeling the pressure of rising rents and real estate speculation. Sit in the office with Boaz Gilad, a developer who started working in Brooklyn a decade ago. He'll tell you what it takes to move into East New York this early. The de Blasio administration says it will take years for the neighborhood to develop but the action is already on. Just ask Pastor David Benke and his parishioners at St. Peter's Lutheran Church: unsolicited offers for their homes are pouring in. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
Turf Wars
WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 3. Co-published with WNYC Studios and Outreach worker Rob walks along a strip of shops in East New York. He considers the area a hot spot for violence. With his first rezoning plan, Mayor de Blasio has declared East New York the place where the city's future begins. But what does East New York's past look like? This week we go back to the founding of East New York in order to understand how it became the place it is today. We meet the people who have been organizing since the 1960s when the neighborhood underwent radical changes. And we'll revisit the blistering summer of 1966, when an 11-year-old black boy named Eric Dean was shot and killed amid the neighborhood's simmering racial tensions. We hear reactions to Dean's death from the street and from city hall. Ron Shiffman talks about the dynamics in the street at the time of Dean's death, as East New York rapidly transformed from a mostly white, working class neighborhood to an under-served community of mostly black and brown New Yorkers neglected by both society and policy. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
Here's the Plan
WNYC Studios Boaz Gilad. Mayor de Blasio's plan to rezone East New York and 14 other neighborhoods is his administration's way of controlling the fierce gentrification machine that is steamrolling across the city. So what does the zoning plan for East New York actually look like? This week we talk with WNYC's Jessica Gould and City Limits editor Jarrett Murphy to understand the nuts and bolts of the plan. And we go deep into the gentrification machine to see how it works. We meet Elizabeth Grefrath, a young gentrefier in Crown Heights who tells us what it was like to move to the neighborhood just a few years ago. We sit down with big time developers like Boaz Gilad of Brookland Capital and Kunal Chothani of Akelius -- a new player from Sweden -- to understand how they operate in the borough's various markets. And we walk the streets of Flatbush with real estate agent Namane Mohlabane who shows just how complicated -- and personal -- the machine can be. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process. WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 4. Co-published with WNYC Studios and
Our Town
WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 8. Co-published with WNYC Studios and Rally for just rezoning in East New York. (Janet Babin/WNYC) Gentrification has many New Yorkers asking the same question: Is there still a place for me in this city? We meet Dr. Ron Dailey who's been practicing medicine in Brooklyn for two decades, all the while watching long time patients leave the city, one after another. We meet New Yorkers fighting to stay and others who have made the decision to go. And we check in with East New York, the neighborhood where Mayor de Blasio's rezoning plan was passed by city council just last week. With the wheels of gentrification already in motion, we start thinking about solutions. There are some good ideas on the table that we don't always give enough space in the conversation. Take for instance, public housing. No, not that public housing. The public housing idea that never happened. It involves going all the way back to Fiorello La Guardia -- and looking beyond the de Blasio affordable housing plan. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
It's Complicated
WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 7. Co-published with WNYC Studios and WNYC Studios The neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Some Brooklynites are wrestling with their own role in gentrification. Changes may be welcomed, but they come with mixed emotions for many. This week we take a walk in Bed-Stuy with 14-year-old Corrine Bobb-Semple. She's grown up in the neighborhood and for the last few years she's been reconciling the changes in her neighborhood with her experiences at St. Ann's, the elite prep school in Brooklyn Heights where she is surrounded by students who are a part of the gentrification process. We'll meet a black homeowner and community organizer named Mark Winston Griffith who tells us how he landed in his home, and the conflicted security it affords him. We also meet Allie LaLonde and Emily Wilson, two 20-something new arrivals to Bed-Stuy who talk about how hard it can be to move outside the circle of gentrified coffee shops and bars. And we journey back to East New York where a community of artists that has lived there for years is bracing for change. We meet Catherine Green, who started Arts East New York because there were no arts organizations in the neighborhood. Now she's determined to let her organization, and the communities it serves, have a say in how their neighborhood is capitalized. She also introduced us to her friend, artist Rasu Jilani, who is turning the conversation away from developing economies and toward preserving ecosystems. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
Williamsburg, What's Good?
WNYC Studios Persons of Interest Barbershop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While politicians and developers strategize how to control the changes in New York, we want find out what gentrification feels like on the ground. How does a tidal wave of money and fast-shifting demographics affect the people who share a neighborhood? What role does race play when it comes to deciding who is included in a community — and who is excluded? We start on the west coast in San Francisco, where Alex Nieto was shot 14 times by police after new white residents reported him as a foreigner in his own neighborhood of Bernal Heights. Jamilah King of Mic.com talks about the gentrification dynamics that were central in Nieto's death. Then we swing back to the epicenter of Brooklyn gentrification: Williamsburg. Writer and humorist Henry Alford talks about the inherently white aesthetic of the Brooklyn hipster, and YouTube personality Akilah Hughes tells her story about a racialized assault that spirals out of control at a well-known bar one Halloween night. And we meet Tranquilina Alvillar from Puebla, Mexico, who's been living in her Williamsburg apartment for 25 years. Her landlord tried everything to get her out — paying her to leave, changing the lock, demolition — but she's still there. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process. WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 5. Co-published with WNYC Studios and
Staten Island Bus Service Struggles as Rezoning Looms
Chris Sampson Staten Island Bus Service Struggles as Rezoning Looms For many Staten Islanders getting to work means catching a bus to the ferry, and for residents who lives close to the ferry and should have the shortest commute, they often report that the bus is failing them. Rosemarie Cruz, 30, lives in the Stapleton section of Staten Island near a bus that should get her to the ferry in about 10 minutes. But it's often late and she often ends up missing the ferry by just a few minutes. "We pay so much money for the ride," she said on a recent morning. "Be on time or at least get here when you say." Joseph Bird sits on the local Community Board's transportation committee and films buses that skip stops and then sends the videos to the MTA. On a recent morning, he observed two buses that pulled in at the same time, and yet there were still 10 people waiting at the stop that couldn't board because of overcrowding. "With the potential rezoning, that's kind of a joke if no one lives on Bay Street now and people still can't get on buses." The city is considering a possible rezoning of Staten Island's north shore that could add hundreds of new units of housing in the next couple of years. The MTA said it has added three additional trips during the morning rush to address the crowding. Speaking at a recent town hall meeting on Staten Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted the city didn't have a plan to address the transportation concerns. "We're not missing that there's a problem here," the mayor said. "We're trying to figure out a solution that we can actually afford and so far we haven't been able to find one. That's the honest truth." Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios WNYC MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. For many Staten Islanders getting to work means
Staten Island Arts Organization Tries to Create Its Own Future
Kevin Dooley Staten Island Arts Organization Tries to Create Its Own Future Extensive private developments and an upcoming city rezoning for the North Shore of Staten Island have residents worried about the future look and feel of their neighborhoods. Lifelong resident and musician Bob Wright, says this part of the island is at risk of losing its long-held artistic identity because the area could become less affordable. "The artists tend to congregate on the North Shore where generally things have been cheaper and it’s not as residential," he said. "There are places where they can have spaces to work. Part of the concerns is loss of those spaces as things get developed." For the last few years, local arts council Staten Island Arts has heard more and more of these concerns. So, it started a project called Future Culture, with the goal of bringing artists and residents into the conversation about development on the North Shore. In 2014, it began collaborating with the Design Trust for Public Space, a nonprofit that seeks to transform underutilized public space in NYC. Elizabeth Bennett, the executive director of Staten Island Arts, says now is the time to start planning, before the buildings go up. "All of this is really important now because there is so much is changing and it’s happening very rapidly," she said. "So we are providing a forum for people to be heard, but also to be a part of the process." Future Culture is supported financially by the Design Trust's Founders Circle, as well as the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the city's Economic Development Corporation, and private developers in the area: Ironstate, Triange Equities, BFC Partners, and the New York Wheel. During a community even last month, Future Culture released a document with 7 initial recommendations for how the North Shore should be developed. The next step phase for Future Culture is to find artists for two pilot projects, that incorporate the recommendations. A final draft of their recommendations will be issued in the fall. Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. Extensive private developments and an WNYC Studios
Two Old Theatres, One New North Shore
WNYC Studios MTA Two Old Theaters, One New North Shore Part of The Affordability Project. You may not know it, but in the 1880's, the North Shore of Staten Island was a travel hot-spot. Canadian developer Erastus Wiman wanted to get people to buy tickets to ride the ferry and the Staten Island railroad, both of which he owned. So Wiman built a baseball stadium (which still stands today) and a casino with shows that featured live elephants (brought over on the Staten Island Ferry). According to local historian Pat Salmon, there was also an electric fountain that shot water 100 feet into the air, "which was a wonder in 1886, electricity in and of itself. But then, to see this fanciful light with all these colors, it just like blew people's minds." It’s not a new idea to drive economic development through spectacle. Today, Staten Island has a giant observation wheel coming to its shore as part of a $1 billion retail, hotel and housing development. Already, existing entertainment venues are improving the economy of the North Shore. Near the ferry building is the St. George Theatre, which was shuttered for nearly 30 years until it reopened as a performing arts venue in 2004. Further down Bay Street is the Paramount Theater which is used for film and TV productions and rents out space to other businesses. The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce says that in the last nine years, the St. George Theatre has been part of a general revitalization in the area, but the pace has been slow: total business sales in downtown Staten Island are rising, but the area struggles with a retail vacancy rate of 21 percent compared to a citywide average of 8.3 percent. But cultural hubs like theaters do more than just encourage more spending in an neighborhood. According to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania, low and moderate-income communities with access to cultural resources tend to be safer and healthier, and residents have higher levels of education compared to similar communities with fewer cultural resources. Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. It’s a struggle to afford living in New
Trickery, Fraud and Deception
WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA There Goes the Neighborhood - Episode 6. Co-published with WNYC Studios and Kids Roast Marshmallows at Maple Street Garden. In the fast moving world of Brooklyn real estate, for some it feels more like the Wild West – developers and investors looking to cash in on the gold rush don't always play by the rules. Meet Tia Strother, she's a young mother whose family has been living in Bedford-Stuyvesant for five generations. Tia tells us how horrifying it was to learn that her 90-year-old great grandmother was convinced to sign away the family home to a speculator. She did so for no money and with no lawyer present. Now the family is fighting to hang on to the house. And we visit Prospect Lefferts-Gardens to get the story of a vacant lot at 237 Maple Street. Neighbors – new and old – have spent the last five years transforming this one small piece of Brooklyn from a dumping ground to a thriving community garden. They put together a composting program and arranged visits for kids at a local pre-school; there were summer BBQs and weed picking parties. But all of that came to a halt one day in 2014 when Joseph and Michael Makhani showed up, claiming to own the lot. The only problem: their deed might be fraudulent. Now they are in court, battling it out with the gardeners, trying to establish their ownership of the property in order to build a five-story luxury apartment building. The gardeners and their lawyer have a plan to beat the Makhanis, but the cost of such a victory might be too high. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC. Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News. Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.
6 Things to Know About Worker Coops
ThoroughlyReviewed 6 Things to Know About Worker Coops WNYC has been taking a close look at affordability in New York — one neighborhood at a time. Now we’re turning our attention to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, which, like so many neighborhoods in New York, is getting harder to afford. Property values are on the rise, making everything more expensive. One question for residents — and really, for all of us — is: How can we improve neighborhoods and at the same time, keep the same neighbors? Some people in Sunset Park are trying by developing worker-owned cooperatives. But what are they are and how do they work? The workers are the owners. This means that the workers make the decisions about the pricing, the services, the schedules, and the future of the company. Coops in New York are mostly women and minority-owned businesses. 99% of worker-owners are women and 99% of worker-owners are not white. Most are Hispanic or black. Coops help their members plan for the long-term. Owning the business means that workers don’t have to rely only on their own body to make money. In other words, when they get older and can't walk dogs anymore or clean homes for a living, they can still earn money by helping to run those businesses. Coops are a way for people to build equity. It’s often people’s first chance at being owners of an asset, in this case the coop, which has the potential to grow in value. There are about 60 worker coops in NYC. That’s triple what it was three years ago, in part because of the city’s Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI). The City Council just approved a fourth year of funding. Most existing coops were created after 2008. Sunset Park is a hub for worker coops. The Center for Family Life started incubating these businesses about 10 years ago. Since then, it's helped workers create over 15 coops, most of which are based in Sunset Park. They include coops for dog walkers, home cleaners, tutors, elder care and child care providers. For more information on worker cooperatives in New York City: The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives Up and Go Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. How can we improve neighborhoods and at the same time, keep the same neighbors?
The Street Where Eric Garner Died Struggles to Recover
WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. Shop owners claim a rise in crime after Paul Silva The Street Where Eric Garner Died Struggles To Recover WNYC has been reporting on the North Shore of Staten Island, an area on the cusp of change. Over a billion dollars of development is being spent around the ferry terminal, and the city plans to rezone and revitalize a stretch of Bay Street just south of there. In the middle of it all is the spot where Eric Garner, a black man accused of selling loose cigarettes, was placed in a fatal chokehold by a white police officer in July 2014. His death grabbed headlines, sparked outrage across the country, helped inspire the Black Lives Matter movement, and led to broad changes in the city's police department. But years after the incident, local business owners say they're struggling with the legacy. They say shoppers avoid the notorious block and that crime has increased. Bay Street landlord Gjafer Gjeshbitraj said Tompkinsville Park across the street from his building attracts drug addicts and alcoholics who spill onto the sidewalk and scare away customers. He used to call 311 for help; some say those calls led to Garner’s death. Gjeshbitraj has defended himself and said he did complain about someone named Eric, but not Eric Garner. He believes the police have pulled back in the area since Garner’s death. Police department statistics for the precinct — which covers much of the North Shore — show felony and misdemeanor arrests are up since Garner died, although the department said it doesn't track this data at the block level. Deputy Inspector Robert Bocchino said the police are doing their job. He agrees there are problems in the park, which he believes are related to the opioid crisis on Staten Island. He said that’s why the department has assigned two officers specifically to that spot. But Gjeshbitraj wants more attention to the problem. Last fall, he and his tenant, artist Alexis Scott, put up a controversial sign: "This block has been overrun by criminals, violence and addicts. We are slowly being choked and we can't breath." Some find the sign disrespectful. Doug, who didn't want to give his last name, sells odds and ends from some outdoor tables on the block. "I think it's horrible," he said, "because he went a little bit too far when he added 'Now I can't breathe.' I mean, come on." Doug said he made the real memorial to Eric Garner, which includes photos, flowers and a pan-African flag in a plastic box at the spot where he died. Meanwhile, city planners want to rezone a section of Bay Street starting at the park to allow more housing and retail. "Having the rezoning, more residents and businesses in the area, gives an opportunity to both rethink and reprogram the park and make it a real town center that it should be as opposed to a place that people try to avoid, sadly, today," said Leonard Garcia-Duran with the Department of City Planning. Business owners on this block, however, have mixed reactions to what they’ve heard about the city's plans. Some believe development will make the area safer, while others worry it will simply push the addicts — and the local businesses — somewhere else. "I just don’t feel very hopeful that the money will go to create what’s needed to help the social problems," said Katie McCarthy, who is the co-owner of Everything Goes bookstore and cafe, another business on the block. Co-published with WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios
The Problem with Addiction Treatment: Getting People to Take It
The Cartigiano family has been struggling with Mike's addiction for over a decade. Mike is second from left. Courtesy of the Cartigianos. The Problem with Addiction Treatment: Getting People to Take It One weekday night in May, members of the Cartigiano family — 35-year-old Mike, his mother, Linda, and his sister, Michele Abreu — headed to Our Lady Star of the Sea Elementary School on the south end of Staten Island, looking for help. There, Nurse Alicia Reddy hosts a monthly meetup for people struggling with opioids. She calls herself the Addiction Angel. Among the dozen or so people in the room: a nurse recently returned from rehab; a father worried about his son's drinking; and Nicky, who had just given up heroin a few weeks back and was hoping to stay sober. Reddy encouraged Nicky and the nurse to stay "clean," then recommended the father buy urine tests and make sure his son hadn't progressed from drinking to using harder drugs. The Cartigianos brought Mike hoping Reddy would convince him to check into an in-patient clinic. Just two weeks earlier, Linda found her son in his room, overdosed on heroin, not breathing. After frantically texting her daughter, she got out the Narcan, the medicine that can resuscitate opioid drug users, and called an ambulance. It worked. But it left this family struggling with what to do next. The Cartigiano family lives in the South Beach-Tottenville neighborhood which has one of the highest rates of overdose deaths from opioid abuse in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this spring his administration would invest $38 million annually over the next five years to turn those statistics around. The investment focuses on training more physicians to prescribe drugs — methadone and another opioid alternative called suboxone — that can help a user stay out of withdrawal while they get off other, more dangerous substances. Someone who has been addicted to painkillers or heroin could be on the alternative medication, under a doctor's watch, for many years, similar to a diabetes patient or someone with a chronic condition like high blood pressure. Research shows that pairing counseling with these prescription drugs offer users the best shot at recovery. Diane Arneth is the president and CEO of Community Health Action of Staten Island, a health and social services clinic. As a lifelong Staten Islander, she told WNYC there was a deep resistance in this community to the city's approach, known in addiction circles as medication assisted treatment. "There is really this very widely held belief that the best treatment for opioid addiction is to send somebody away, to have them be drug free for some period of time, and then to come back and be better," she said. But the problem with in-patient rehabilitation and the dream of being "drug free," is that eventually people return home and have to face all the circumstances that led them to use in the first place. Arneth said medication assisted treatment can help people as they go about their everyday lives. Still, it's a hard sell. In her outpatient clinic for drug addiction, she has slots for 100 patients; only 35 of them are filled. At the meeting in the school gym, Mike and his family did not see eye to eye on the best approach: he wanted to try methadone while his mother and sister preferred sending him away. Linda said she doesn't like the idea of treating a opioid-based addiction with another opioid. "The only thing is one is controlled by the government, the other you don't know what you're getting because you're buying it off the street," she said. In the end, Mike started taking methadone in secret, traveling to Manhattan for his daily dose, as he worked to get off heroin. And for the time being, his family said they would support him. Co-published WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios WNYC Studios MULTIMEDIA Co-published with WNYC Studios. Someone who has been addicted to
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