For Immediate Release | November 26, 2014
Contact: Jennifer Flynn, 917-517-5202, Jennifer@vocal-ny.org
Days before World AIDS Day, Advocates say ending homelessness and extreme poverty is vital to making Governor Cuomo’s commitment to end AIDS in NY by 2020 a reality
New York, NY — Leading LGBT, AIDS and anti-homelessness advocacy organizations, along with the New York State Nurses Association and the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, have submitted a letter to Governor Cuomo calling for the expansion of enhanced rental assistance, food and transportation benefits to all low-income New Yorkers living with HIV. Currently, only low-income New York City residents whose condition has progressed to AIDS can access these life-saving benefits.
“Right before Thanksgiving and World AIDS Day (December 1st), every single New Yorker living with HIV needs a home and food on the table to enjoy their holiday dinner. That’s what this proposal does. It’s right, it’s fair and it is vital to ending AIDS in New York”, said Robert Tolbert, a board member of VOCAL-NY.
Under the policy, 10,000 poor New Yorkers statewide who are HIV+ would be able to afford an apartment, make their numerous visits to the doctor, and maintain the proper caloric intake necessary for adhering to AIDS medications. With proper housing and health care, we can keep people healthy and the virus undetectable in their body, making it virtually impossible for transmission to occur. Housing is one of the most important ways to connect individuals to treatment. The Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force has identified a proposal to create a single point of entry for all New Yorkers living with HIV to access welfare benefits that include increased money for rent, food and transportation as a cornerstone of New York’s plan to end AIDS.
“When we expand this welfare benefit, every night in New York City, 1000 people will be able to sleep in their own home instead of the shelter system.”, said Jennifer Flynn, Executive Director VOCAL-NY and a member of the Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force.
The policy could prove particularly important for homeless LGBT youth who have a higher rate of infection than their stably housed counterparts. This rental assistance program will ensure that homeless HIV positive youth can end a cycle of sleeping in the streets and can finally access care. New Yorkers between 13-25 are the one age group where rates of HIV continue to rise, so recommendations that provide support for treatment to this age group are critical to reaching the Governor’s goal of ending AIDS by 2020. “If young men like me, have a place to call home, and no longer have to engage in survival sex and have the stability to take their medications, my generation can end AIDS.” Said Jason Walker, HIV/AIDS Community Organizer with VOCAL-NY.
The letter was signed by groups from around the State including Albany Damien House, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, NY State Nurses Association, Pride Agenda, Stonewall Democrats Club, Housing Works, Bailey House, GMHC, Brooklyn Pride House.