Ten of Brooklyn’s community-based substance abuse treatment centers have been given grants totaling $2.2 million from a fund created by the dissolution of a  fraudulent Canarsie charity.

New York Attorney General Letitia James dissolved Canarsie A.W.A.R.E. for exploiting some of New York’s most vulnerable residents and defrauding Medicaid, and from it created the Wellness and Recovery Fund of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

The money will now go to fund substance treatment programs and harm reduction services in Brooklyn through grants of $217,500 distributed over three years.

The 10 organizations receiving grants are: After Hours Project, Ali Forney Center, Brooklyn Community Housing and Services, Community Counseling & Mediation, Global Trauma Research, Housing Plus, Lantern Community Services, New York Therapeutic Communities – Stay’n Out, The Family Center and VOCAL-NY.

“It is essential for New Yorkers who have struggled through addiction and substance abuse to have access to reliable treatment programs, and with these funds, we are doing just that,” James said. “The funds will finally be used in the manner in which they were intended — to help New Yorkers who need it most.”

The funding comes at a critical moment for in-demand community-based programs, as drug overdose deaths have soared to record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. From January to March 2021, there were 596 confirmed overdose deaths in New York City, with the second largest number occurring in Brooklyn, James said in her announcement.

The grants were selected by 10 Brooklyn residents impacted by substance misuse or who have worked with impacted communities as part of Brooklyn Community Foundation’s participatory grantmaking funding approach.

Brooklyn Community Foundation CEO and President Jocelynne Rainey said the advisory council members, drawing upon their own experiences with substance abuse and misuse, partnered with the foundation, “to select an outstanding group of grantees that are helping people navigate the difficult road of treatment and recovery while honoring their agency and dignity.” 

“We are grateful for Attorney General James’ leadership in reclaiming these funds for the benefit of Brooklyn’s communities, her belief in our community-led grantmaking approach, and her commitment to helping New Yorkers overcome the devastating and far-reaching impacts of addiction.”

Fernando Soto, the CEO and president of After Hours Project — one of the grantees, said the grant would allow After Hours Project to enhance its, “evidence-based substance abuse treatment and supportive services, which includes buprenorphine treatment, syringe access, overdose prevention, harm reduction counseling and education.”

“We plan to use the funds to purchase an electric mobile unit to help lower our carbon footprint and hire a peer-driven outreach team to expand our services in areas with the highest needs, such as Bed-Stuy, Sunset Park and Williamsburg.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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