Securing Community Buy-in Is A Must For Any Entity
Score one for the little guy: the community had a big day in their fight against a proposed methadone clinic on Virginia Street.
If there is one takeaway from the planned methadone clinic at Hispanics United at Buffalo, and the ensuing fiasco that followed, it is that community support is a must.
When a resident's quality of life is at stake you can be sure that all bets are off. And that is precisely the lesson HUB is learning as it fights a high-stakes battle against a mounting wave of backlash from the community it purports to serve.
The organization has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade it's second-floor facility to meet the standards of operating a methadone clinic.
Against all sense of logic, the organization bet that they could sneak their plans past the community and avoid any discussion on the matter prior to opening for business. They figured that it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
But if recent developments are any indication of what's to come, HUB's massive investment for an organization of its size is now in jeopardy. In fact, it's looking more and more likely that the organization's only hope of operating a methadone clinic lies in relocating.
Good initiative, bad judgment.
HUB may have their hearts in the right place. And given the benefit of the doubt, they may have genuinely thought this location was an ideal site for a methadone clinic. No one's arguing the need for the clinic, just the location.
HUB was hoping to be in the business of distributing methadone as early as July 1st. As it stands now, the organization is only able to provide outpatient substance abuse counseling and treatment.
Why is HUB being prevented from distributing methadone at its facility? There are many reasons. Mainly, residents are opposed the proposed methadone clinic's location, which is in a residential neighborhood that also includes two nearby schools, a school bus pickup location directly across the street from it and a senior recreational facility on the first floor of the building.
Is this location suitable? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. One thing we know for sure is that HUB's refusal to engage with the community prior to making decisions has done very little to prove their case.
Since HUB has not responded to the community's concerns, resident's have turned to government to plead their case. And elected officials are listening.
Action has been taken by Erie County Mental Heath Commissioner Ellery Reaves, who issued a formal letter to the New York State Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) stating his opposition to the clinic opening on HUB's Virginia Street location.
This development was first announced at yesterday's public meeting, held at the Los Tainos Senior Citizens Center, which informed those in attendance that Erie County has asked New York State to officially withdraw and retract county approval of a clinic at this location. This is a necessary step to prevent HUB from distributing methadone at the proposed residential site.
This site location is inconsistent with local requirements for the siting of opioid treatment services, and I personally believe it to be wholly unsuitable. Serious questions have been raised regarding the provider’s commitment and capacity to monitor their patients while ensuring the safety of neighborhood residents.
I urge the Bureau of Certification and Systems Management not to provide PROMESA with final approval for opioid treatment services as part of application #2012-105 at this time.
To reiterate, this is a key milestone in the resident's movement to prevent the operation of the clinic. That's because ultimately, the Erie County Mental Health Commissioner must sign-off on the clinic before OASAS can approve it.
Additionally, the Buffalo Common Council has passed a referendum demanding a moratorium be imposed on HUB's proposed methadone facility until the community's concerns are resolved.
Silence = Bad Strategy
Because of the organization's lack of transparency and unwillingness to engage with the community on an issue that undoubtedly affects resident's quality of life, HUB's gamble may prove costly.
But it din't have to be this way. HUB could have informed the community of their proposed plan. They could have held public forums to address the community's concerns - or at the very least attend the forums being organized by residents to assuage their concerns. But they didn't.
And they seem to be doubling down on their lack of engagement. Notably, they failed to send any representation to last week's Common Council meeting discussing the methadone clinic. At last night's community meeting, they also failed to send a representative.
Considering the steps being taken against their proposed plans by residents, HUB may want to reconsider their strategy of silence. Securing buy-in from the community is a must for any entity. Now is the time for HUB to be upfront and transparent with their plans, instead of going into hiding.
County retracts support for Hispanics United methadone clinic - Buffalo Business First
Hispanics United has faced a storm of opposition from neighborhood residents as well as city and county officials to the siting of the clinic...
Erie County takes stance against methadone clinic on Lower West Side - The Buffalo News
Erie County’s mental health commissioner has called for the state to block a plan for a methadone clinic for heroin addicts because the proposed site at Hispanics United of Buffalo on the city’s Lower West Side is “wholly unsuitable.”...
Hispanics United Digs in on Methadone Clinic - Buffalo Rising
While the Buffalo Common Council, neighborhood residents, and now erie county have come out against plans for a methadone clinic on Virginia Street, Hispanics United of Buffalo has declared it intends to move forward, community be damned...
Neighbors packed the Los Tainos Senior Citizen Center on Thursday to question a methadone clinic proposed for the Hispanics United building on Virginia Street in Buffalo...
Residents Against Methadone Clinic - WKBW-TV
Residents showed up in full force at tonight's community meeting to discuss the proposed site for a methadone clinic...
Residents in Allentown and the Lower West Side rallied Thursday night against a proposed methadone clinic during a public meeting...