[COMM-ORG] NYCAHN is now VOCAL New York!
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Sat Nov 13 09:40:12 CST 2010
NYCAHN is now VOCAL New York!
From: Sean Barry <barry at nycahn.org>
Dear Friends & Allies:
We have some exciting news to share - the NYC AIDS Housing Network
(NYCAHN) will now be known as VOCAL New York (Voices Of Community
Activists & Leaders)! And to celebrate, we hope you can join us TONIGHT
at our 10th Anniversary Gala at 1199 SEIU Penthouse in Times Square -
details online at bit.ly/b3brch.
Please note – NYCAHN will remain a vital program within VOCAL New York
and will now be known as the New York AIDS Housing Network in order to
reflect our statewide efforts to expand housing assistance for people
living with HIV/AIDS. We remain committed to strong advocacy on behalf
of HIV/AIDS housing programs during this difficult budget environment.
Find out more on our new website www.VOCAL-NY.org.
VOCAL New York's expanded mission is to be a statewide grassroots
membership organization building power among low-income people who are
living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use and incarceration, along
with the organizations that serve them, to create healthier and more
just communities. VOCAL New York will be the umbrella organization for
all of our community organizing, leadership development, civic
engagement, strategic advocacy and direct services programs.
We are proud to continue in the spirit of our history. After being
started by a coalition of progressive HIV/AIDS housing providers in the
mid-1990s, NYCAHN incorporated in 2000 with a focus on both advocacy for
HIV/AIDS supportive housing programs and community organizing with
low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. At the same time, we also worked
to address other structural drivers of the epidemic beyond homelessness,
such as reducing incarceration and expanding syringe access.
The idea for VOCAL New York originated during a leadership retreat with
our low-income members about two years ago in an effort to create a
better organizational identity that encompassed all of our work. Our new
identity was also driven by significant growth. We now have three
organizing projects, two upstate chapters in Westchester and Albany, a
Brooklyn-based direct services program, and broad-based campaign goals.
We also wanted to clarify how our work addresses the underlying causes
of HIV/AIDS, incarceration and drug-related harms. Creating healthy and
just communities means working to address the social determinants of
health and correcting the imbalances in access to resources and
political power that drive health disparities, which has always been at
the core of our work.
Our program areas will remain the same:
* Community Organizing & Base Building: Our three organizing projects –
VOCAL Parolees, Users Union and HIV/AIDS – are building a powerful base
of low-income New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use
and mass incarceration to work on their own behalf to win social change
that improves their lives. Each organizing project has monthly
membership meetings, grassroots campaigns, weekly steering committee
meetings, and regular direct action opportunities.
* New York AIDS Housing Network: The AIDS Housing Network is our
advocacy program on behalf of non-profit organizations that provide
housing assistance for over 45,000 low-income people living with
HIV/AIDS and their families throughout the state. VOCAL organizers also
work with providers to engage their clients in our campaigns.
* Civic Engagement: Our Movement Vote program is a non-partisan voter
registration, education and get-out-the-vote effort targeting the most
marginalized New Yorkers. We conduct outreach in low-threshold service
sites such as shelters, food pantries and syringe exchange programs in
order to engage people who are unlikely to vote.
* Training and Leadership Development: Through our POWER (People
Organized for Power & Equal Rights) Academy, we offer leadership
trainings that develop the skills and issue knowledge of VOCAL members.
* Direct Services: Through our Building Community program, we offer
direct services that include support groups, syringe exchange, hepatitis
screening and counseling, and overdose prevention. Everyone who accesses
services is encouraged to become involved in our community organizing.
We are proud of our victories during the past year that were won with
your support. Our campaigns were also covered widely in the media,
including the New York Times, Daily News, Wall Street Journal, Buffalo
News, AP, and other outlets. Highlights of recent victories include:
* Expanded Syringe Access To Prevent HIV and Hepatitis C: We passed a
state law that strengthened legal protections for syringe exchange
participants by reconciling the Penal Code with the Public Health Law
nearly 20 years after syringe exchange first became legal.
* Affordable Housing & Homelessness Prevention: After a four year
legislative campaign, we passed a major state bill that would prevent
about 10,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS from becoming homeless by
establishing a 30% rent cap affordable housing protection. Although
Governor Paterson vetoed it, we're working to enact it before he leaves
office and educating Governor-Elect Cuomo’s staff about it. Campaign
updates are available at www.HousingFightsAIDS.org.
* Incarceration - Ending 'Prison-Based Gerrymandering:' We built a
grassroots coalition that passed a law changing the way New York does
legislative redistricting by ensuring inmates are counted in their home
communities instead of where they are incarcerated. This will restore
voting power to poor communities most impacted by incarceration,
HIV/AIDS and the drug war.
* Protecting access to HIV/AIDS services and preserving supportive
housing. With robust involvement from our network, we restored 75% of
the proposed cut for supportive housing programs serving formerly
homeless people living with HIV/AIDS, and prevented the elimination of
one-third of HASA caseworkers who provide access to Medicaid, food
stamps, housing, and other public benefits. Unfortunately, these are
one-time restorations and will require aggressive advocacy again in 2011.
We also hope that you will SAVE THE DATE for our first membership
assembly as VOCAL New York -- Friday, December 10th (time and location
in NYC TBA).
Please let me know if you have any questions about our new name and
expanded mission. I look forward to continuing to work together to
create a healthier and more just New York.
VOCAL New York (formerly the NYC AIDS Housing Network - NYCAHN)
sean at vocal-ny.org
donate online: http://tinyurl.com/nycahndonate
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