[COMM-ORG] NYCAHN is now VOCAL New York!

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
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.

Sean Barry
VOCAL New York (formerly the NYC AIDS Housing Network - NYCAHN)
646-373-3344 (cell)
sean at vocal-ny.org

website: www.VOCAL-NY.org
facebook: www.facebook.com/vocal
twitter: http://twitter.com/vocalnewyork
donate online: http://tinyurl.com/nycahndonate

More information about the Colist mailing list