Greenburg Photo Du Jour: McCarren Park

If there is one photo that best summarizes the homeless problem in this park— and north Brooklyn in general— this is it. This fellow was the source of considerable curiosity and bemused interest by parks and pool patrons as I walked by this afternoon. Concerned he might be susceptible to— if not presently experiencing— heat exhaustion/stroke, I spoke to the Parks staff at the (nearby) field house. In closing, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for securing the medical attention this man so clearly needed. Thanks guys (and gals)!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Sweet Dreams

Manhattan Avenue: September 1, 2011

Jerzy Popieluszko Square: September 1, 2011

From the University of Texas’s web site:

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) has released a report entitled “Solutions for Homeless Chronic Alcoholics in Austin”. According to the report, 35-40% of the U.S. homeless population struggles with alcoholism as compared to just 5% of the housed population. The report estimated that out of the 3,451 homeless people in Austin, 1,208 homeless people had some form of alcohol problem and 875 suffered from chronic substance abuse.

At times, the addiction to alcohol is so great that when faced with the choice between sobering up for a shelter or staying on the streets, many alcoholics stay on the streets. Some are so addicted that they are willing to drink harmful substances like mouthwash to supplement their bodies’ need for alcohol. The report also states that 150 homeless people died due to alcohol-related deaths on the streets of Austin last year. Individuals with the most severe forms of alcoholism are the most in danger of dying on the streets and are the most frequent users of resources (i.e. hospitals, police, court systems). Severe alcoholics have a need to drink all day, which causes them to be unable to properly seek food, shelter, or aid.

One of the more surprising findings in the report was that shelters that allow alcohol (aka wet shelters) saved both money and lives. Wet shelters are a part of the “harm reduction” strategy, which aims to meet substance abusers “where they are at” as opposed to immediately imposing sobriety. Although the long-term goal of the strategy is to stop substance abuse, the immediate goal is to improve overall wellness. The ECHO study looked at other cities that have used “harm reduction” methods. One of the programs is based in Ottawa, and the results from a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicate clear benefits for the individuals involved in the program:

  • the average daily consumption of alcoholic drinks dropped from 46 to 8;
  • most participants indicated they had improved qualities of sleep, personal hygiene, nutrition and health;
  • employees reported that 88% of participants complied with their prescription medication requirements;
  • problems with the police decreased by 51%; and,
  • trips to the emergency department decreased by 36%.

Seattle also implemented a “harm reduction” strategy by creating a program where seventy-five rooms were offered to “individuals placing the greatest financial strain on city resources” as part of their “harm reduction strategy.” The program has been successful in not only reducing alcohol consumption, but has also saved $1.8 million in emergency room visits alone.

To read more about the study’s findings, you can read the ECHO report here or the article in the Austin-American Statesman here.

If this can be implemented in the Lone Star State, why not here?

New York Shitty Day Starter: Drink To Your Health

October 8, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

From Manhattan Avenue.

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Salvation Army

August 31, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Taken August 31, 2010 at 3:40 p.m.

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Reader Op Ed

December 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Manhattan Avenue at Norman Avenue, 11222

Manhattan & Norman

Nassau Avenue at McGuinness Boulevard, 11222

Nassau & McGuinness

Driggs Avenue at Russell Street, 11222

Driggs & Russell

Tony (who took the above photographs) writes:

Heather,

If there’s ever been a moment in my time in Greenpoint, where I have said to myself, “This is not good” it would be the recent home-made advertisements going up in the windows of several (too many!!) liquors stores for a vodka that is sure to do bad things to the already very  alcoholic masses in Little Poland. Attached are three (of many more) adverts for “Spirytus Vodka”, which is an alcohol equivalent to Ethanol. My girlfriend & I bought a bottle of it as a gag gift last week because it was very cheap and the bottle itself looks less like a beverage and more like something found in someone’s garage or basement next to the paint strippers and gas can.

If you go to an alcohol distributor website they say this: “At a full 95% alcohol by volume, this is the strongest spirit on the commercial market. Alcohol at this strength can be very dangerous if consumed to excess – this should never be drunk neat, but rather used very sparingly as a ‘float’ to give cocktails an extra kick.”  I’m going to guess that our fellow alcohol-addicted neighbors will not be using this as an “extra kick” and a product like this will only increase alcohol-related sickness and death in Greenpoint, not to mention increased compromises to our emergency care services.

I realize there’s a million other vodkas to choose from and yes, it is totally legal, but I am kind of disgusted with the obvious attempt by local liquor stores to shamelessly promote using ethanol as the best way to get from standing to half-dead on the sidewalk with this nasty stuff. All the soup kitchens and outreach have nothing on cheap deadly spirits available and advertised on every other block in our hood.

Tony makes a very salient point: while perfectly legal, is it ethical to sell such products in a neighborhood with one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the city? I also agree with Tony that while this product is intended to give cocktails an added “kick” it is all too likely some will see fit to drink this product “straight” with potentially fatal results.

While I do not want to sound like I am placing the responsibility for the alcoholism problem in this community squarely on the the providers of this product and others like it— there is without argument a measure of personal responsibility at play. However, when dealing with individuals who have a bona fide problem and as such cannot act in their own best interests at what point (if ever) does it become the responsibility of the community to do so (in this case, by not selling such products)? I do not profess to know the answer to this question— but I want each and every one of you to give it some thought nonetheless.

This is not simply the matter of a handful of afflicted individuals; it is a community problem.

Miss Heather

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