January 19, 2022
Mariah McGough, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203 470 9979
VOCAL-NY Launches Budget and Legislative Platforms to Reverse Failed Drug War Policies, End Mass Incarceration, and Eliminate Homelessness
Earlier Today, VOCAL-NY Leaders and Members Hybrid Joined a Press Conference to Announce the Platforms
NEW YORK — Today, VOCAL-NY launched it’s 2022-2023 budget and legislative platforms, laying out demands and policy priorities to create a Caring and Compassionate Infrastructure for New York. The platforms include policies from each of VOCAL-NY’s four unions that individually work on homelessness, drug policy, civil rights, and HIV/AIDS. Members and leaders in VOCAL-NY’s Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, and Syracuse chapters plan to urge lawmakers to advance these policies this session, and give marginalized New Yorkers the support they deserve.
“New York is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis that will only get worse the longer lawmakers refuse to act,” said Jawanza Williams, VOCAL-NY Director of Organizing. “The piecemeal solutions we’ve seen in recent years don’t go far enough to support New Yorkers living with HIV or substance use disorder, or struggling to survive in shelters or behind bars. In this moment, we need the state to go farther than they ever have before and create an infrastructure of care and compassion for years to come.”
“This session, we need our legislators to truly begin to end the harm of criminalization and build out an infrastructure of harm reduction and care to end the overdose crisis in NYS,” said Ivette Chavez-Gonzalez, a Users Union Leader with VOCAL-NY’s Buffalo chapter. “They can do this by passing the bill to decriminalize the lifesaving medication Buprenorphine and by passing the Safer Consumption Services act so that all of our communities can save more lives.”
“There are thousands of empty hotel rooms across New York State while our people are doubled-up in shelter beds or on the streets,” said Crystal Galvin, a Homelessness Union leader with VOCAL-NY’s Albany chapter. “We need safe, deeply affordable, permanent housing throughout New York State. Last year, the legislature heard our call for action and passed the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA). This year, we are calling upon the legislature once again to fully-fund HONDA so that we can effectively create thousands of new sustainable, safe, units of deeply affordable housing. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that the health of one person affects us all. The elected leaders of New York must act now by fully-funding HONDA and prevent more people from being unjustly evicted by passing Good Cause.”
“I’ve been living with HIV for more than 20 years,” said Tracie Adams, a Positive Leaders Union Leader with VOCAL-NY’s Buffalo chapter. “Outside of New York City, people with HIV/AIDS have extremely limited access to housing and services. That means an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 people outside of New York City have an unmet housing need. Housing is healthcare and city borders shouldn’t determine whether someone gets the support they need.”
“Individuals who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated matter just as much as everyone else,” said Eileen Maher, Civil Rights Union Leader from VOCAL-NY’s New York City chapter. “There are countless individuals who are in and or have survived the New York jail and prison systems, many of them innocent or not given a true chance at justice. I’m proud to stand with my VOCAL-NY family in calling on Governor Hochul and the legislature to pass a slate of bills this session that are imperative to ending mass incarceration in New York State.”
VOCAL-NY is dedicated to ending the AIDS epidemic, drug war, mass incarceration and homelessness in New York State. We do this by building the power of low-income people directly impacted by these issues. We have chapters in New York City, Westchester, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.
The continued harm from criminalization, incarceration, and the legacy of former Governor Cuomo’s austerity have resulted in a historic number of New Yorkers dying from preventable overdoses, record high homelessness, increased rates of hepatitis C and emerging HIV clusters. In the 2022 legislative session, our state must continue the momentum from last year and reverse these harms by decarceration and investing in housing, services and carefor all New Yorkers.