Statement on Senator Duane's decision not to seek reelection & pledge to fight for AIDS housing bill

[Download a fact sheet on the 30% rent cap AIDS housing bill here.]

Contact: Jim Lister, 760.522.0458 | Jaron Benjamin, 718.864.3932

Statement on Senator Thomas K. Duane’s decision not to seek another term.

Jim Lister, a VOCAL-NY leader who is a client of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration and a longtime West Village resident, issued the following statement on behalf of VOCAL-NY.

VOCAL-NY leader Jim Lister and Senator Duane being arrested during a protest in 2010 following Governor Paterson's veto of the 30% rent cap bill.

“Senator Duane has always led with his heart and conscience, serving as a moral compass for the New York Senate.  You know he meant it when he hugged you and pledged to fight for your rights.

Senator Duane, New York’s only openly HIV-positive state legislator, said today that his top priority before leaving office is passing the ‘30% rent cap’ affordable housing bill and seeing it signed into law.  The bill would prevent homelessness for thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and enable hundreds more to move out of the shelter system, while reducing unnecessary shelter and healthcare expenses.  It would do so by establishing the same affordable housing protection in New York’s HIV/AIDS rental assistance program that already exists in every other low-income housing program in the state.

The bill already passed the Senate twice with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2009 and 2010, before being unexpectedly vetoed by former Governor David Paterson.  When the bill passed for the first time in 2009, Senator Duane memorably spoke for over twenty minutes in the early morning hours during the final day of session about the years of discrimination and indignities people living with HIV/AIDS endured.

We urge Senator Duane’s colleagues in the legislature to enact this vital legislation before this session ends.

Senator Duane took care of his constituents, but his commitment to social justice went far beyond the boundaries of his district.  Whether you were HIV-positive and homeless in a city shelter or incarcerated in an upstate prison, Senator Duane was looking out for you.

He spent most of his career in the Senate minority and, although he was a proud progressive, he built bridges and worked in a bipartisan manner with his Republican colleagues to protect the rights of vulnerable New Yorkers.

Senator Duane championed New York’s best values for the most marginalized, including people living with HIV/AIDS, prison inmates, bullied students, trafficking victims and gays, lesbians and persons of transgender experience.  Although we will deeply miss his leadership in the Senate, we look forward to continuing to work together to fight for social justice after he leaves office.”


VOCAL-NY (formerly NYC AIDS Housing Network) is a grassroots membership building power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, mass incarceration and the war on drugs in order to create healthy and just communities.  Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter at

Blog, HIV/AIDS, Press Release

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