HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Some local residents said that since the pandemic began, trash, neglect and unsightliness in this neighborhood have become so great, without an adequate response from the city, that they feel they need to take action themselves.
They’ve formed an organization called the Harlem Cares Collective, or HCC, which will clean up streets on Sunday. Even though the new group has gotten some support from the city’s Department of Sanitation, the collective says that the city is not doing enough to tackle the problem.
Imani Cruz is one of the co-founders of HCC.
“We literally created this group,” she said, “so that we could pick up the trash, because no one else was helping us.”
She and a fellow neighbor, Lisa Greenbaum, said that they founded HCC to be part of the solution.
“We should be able to feel like we have a voice,” Greenbaum said during an interview at the corner of 132nd Street and Lenox Avenue, where the newly-formed organization is centering its efforts.
“Other neighbors have said to me, ‘That’s just the way it is,'” Greenbaum said. “No, that’s not the way it should be.”
They’ve posted fliers in area businesses and were handing them out on Friday to people who live and work in the area. The fliers announced their first big cleanup effort, starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the 132nd and Lenox intersection. It will include free garbage bags, trash pickup devices, and other cleanup supplies that have been provided by the Department of Sanitation, or DSNY.
Still, more needs to be done, according to Cruz.
“We need regular trash pickups, we need bigger trash bins, we need bigger trash receptacles,” Cruz said. “We just need help.”
For its part, the sanitation department is officially endorsing the neighborhood cleanup. The Harlem Cares Collective even included the DSNY’s logo on its flier. Department of Sanitation also said, in a statement, that Sunday’s HCC cleanup is the seventh community trash pickup effort in Central Harlem since mid-May for which it’s provided supplies.
“We rely on all New Yorkers to help keep our city clean, and we regularly partner with community groups across the five boroughs for neighborhood cleanups,” the statement read. “We have assisted with 273 cleanups thus far in calendar year 2022. This weekend, we are providing brooms, shovels, rakes, bags and gloves to the Harlem Cares Collective.”
The HCC said that it’s also trying to draw attention to the presence of a high number of homeless people on the streets of the neighborhood, as well as open air use of illegal drugs.
For now, the organization said that it’s beginning its efforts with the trash cleanup on Sunday morning.