Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY) is a statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness in order to create healthy and just communities. We accomplish this through community organizing, leadership development, public education, direct services, participatory research and direct action.
VOCAL-NY, then known as NYCAHN (The New York City AIDS Housing Network), was founded in 1999 by Jennifer Flynn, Joe Bostic and Jose Capestany as a progressive AIDS housing network.
While many people believed that the HIV/AIDS crisis ended with the availability of new medication in the mid-90s, the reality is that the epidemic was becoming more and more concentrated in low-income communities of color, which made it difficult for those being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to benefit from treatment advances. Our members always recognized that HIV/AIDS was not an isolated health issue but rather a symptom of institutional injustices rooted in race, gender and economic inequalities. VOCAL-NY was formed to shift attention from treatment to addressing the root causes of the epidemic, like homelessness and incarceration.
NYCAHN became VOCAL-NY in 2010 to better reflect our multi-issue, multi-constituency organizing work in New York’s most marginalized communities. Today, we operate a syringe exchange that distributes over 50,000 clean syringes annually, as well as providing overdose prevention training and other participatory services to hundreds of New Yorkers. Our community organizing seeks to end the HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C epidemics, war on drugs and mass incarceration, while creating more healthy and just communities and strengthening democratic participation in our society.
VOCAL-NY is very grateful to the organizations that support our work:
Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS
Drug Policy Alliance
Elton John AIDS Foundation
H. van Ameringen Foundation
MAC AIDS Fund
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York Community Trust
New York Foundation
New York State Department of Health
North Star Fund
New York Women’s Foundation
Open Society Foundations
VOCAL-NY is also generously supported by individuals, who support us with meaningful gifts of every size.