Foundations Provide Support For NYC Overdose Prevention Centers

The New York Community Trust and New York Health Foundation Together Provide More than Half a Million Dollars in Funding for OnPoint NYC

NEW YORK, NY Philanthropic support is helping keep the doors open at the nation’s first two overdose prevention centers (OPCs). OnPoint NYC, the operator of the OPCs in Washington Heights and East Harlem, is grateful to The New York Community Trust and The New York Health Foundation for two significant funding awards. The Trust awarded OnPoint NYC $200,000 to support OPC data collection, evaluation, and ongoing advocacy efforts to fully authorize OPC sites across New York State and across the country. The Foundation awarded OnPoint NYC $325,000 to support OPC staffing and operations. Legislation to fully legalize OPCs has made progress in Albany and the eventual passage of such legislation would further open the door for OnPoint NYC to receive city and/or state funding for its lifesaving harm reduction services.

Since opening the two OPCs in November 2021, OnPoint NYC has raised close to $900,000 in private philanthropy funding to keep the sites operating. The Fund for Public Health in NYC provided technical assistance to OnPoint NYC. To date, 1,697 unique individuals have utilized the sites 34,541 times and OnPoint NYC’s team has reversed 471 overdoses so far. (A review of the first two months of data from OnPoint NYC’s OPCs is the focus of a July Research Letter published in JAMA Network Open). According to the NYC Health Department, someone dies every four hours in NYC due to an overdose and more New Yorkers die from drug overdoses than homicides, suicides, and vehicular accidents combined.

“The facts are clear — overdose prevention centers save lives,” said NYC Health Commissioner and FPHNYC Board Chair, Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Overdose prevention centers are an evidence-based approach to harm reduction we must authorize, invest in, and expand to combat our overdose epidemic. We applaud OnPoint NYC for their vital work in this space and thank its philanthropic partners for ​their transformative support and generosity.”

Overdose Prevention Centers are professionally supervised facilities where persons who use drugs can consume them under controlled conditions to prevent drug-related overdose deaths and reduce the risks of disease transmitted through needle sharing. OPCs not only reduce overdose deaths, but they also reduce public drug injections and syringe litter as well as drug-related crime.

“The New York Community Trust’s support of OnPoint NYC’s centers reflect our priorities to improve the lives of fellow New Yorkers and promote an equitable, patient-focused, and cost-effective healthcare system,” said Irfan Hasan, The New York Community Trust’s Deputy Vice President for Grants. “Overdose prevention centers, while controversial, have been stopping heroin overdoses around the world. This project is an opportunity to help reverse the tide of overdose deaths in New York and serve as a model for the nation.”

“Reversing the opioid epidemic and saving lives takes courage. I’m proud that New York City is once again leading the nation to embrace a high-risk, high-reward strategy to address this public health crisis,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth). “We know that overdose prevention centers are effective and they’re already operating successfully in many other countries. In hindsight, we may ask ourselves, ‘What took us so long?’”

OnPoint NYC’s two OPCs operate within existing Syringe Service Programs (SSPs). These SSPs provide a multitude of essential services, including syringe exchange, onsite access to Buprenorphine and other addiction treatment options, HIV and hepatitis C testing, counseling, hygiene and respite, food, clothing, and connections to social and medical services. Studies have shown that each dollar invested in OPCs produces significant cost savings for municipalities by reducing the need for EMS responses and hospital emergency room services. OnPoint NYC estimates that the overdose interventions it has conducted since opening in November 2021 have already saved the City of New York more than $12 million.

“We are grateful to The New York Community Trust and the New York Health Foundation for making this generous investment in our life-saving OPC sites,” said Sam Rivera, OnPoint NYC’s Executive Director. “This new private funding comes at a pivotal moment when we have already intervened in over 400 overdoses since opening in November last year. Our amazing team at OnPoint NYC will now be able to serve hundreds more people impacted by the devastating overdose crisis by continuing to offer crucial life-saving services to beautiful participants in a loving and healthy safe space, which includes access to medical and mental health care, addiction treatment options, HIV and Hepatitis-C testing, holistic health services, case management, food, clothing, access to showers and more. We will also continue to work fiercely to advocate for full authorization of OPC sites in NYS and across the US, as government support is absolutely essential for the financial sustainability and expansion of OPCs.”

“I am very proud that The Fund for Public Health in New York City has been able to help bring together members of the philanthropic community to support the groundbreaking harm reduction and lifesaving work of OnPoint NYC,” said Sara Gardner, the Fund’s Executive Director,. “Preventing opioid-related overdose death is one of the greatest public health challenges that we face in New York City. The New York Community Trust and New York Health Foundation are helping OnPoint NYC pioneer a response to the crisis that hopefully will soon be taken to greater scale with public as well as private support.”

The New York Community Trust is a public charity and New York City’s largest community foundation. It connects generous people and institutions with high-impact nonprofits making the city and its suburbs a better place for all. It builds stronger communities, influences public policy, foster innovation, improves lives, and protects our environment.

The New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) is a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers. The Foundation is committed to making grants, informing health policy and practice, spreading effective programs to improve the health care system and the health of New Yorkers, serving as a convener of health leaders across the State, and providing technical assistance to its grantees and partners.

OnPoint NYC: In addition to supervised consumption centers in East Harlem and Washington Heights, OnPoint NYC provides wraparound services to meet its underserved participant’s comprehensive set of needs including, medical and mental health care.

Our East Harlem location will be closing early at 8:30pm on Wed 5/1 and Fri 5/3. Our Washington Heights location will be open on our regular schedule.

No One Has To Die of An Overdose.

Through our compassionate and effective approach, we’ve saved over 1,000 lives. With your support, we can save many more.