She’s So VOCAL is a women-led community organizing and leadership development project geared specifically to empowering and uplifting the stories of women in our organizing work.
VOCAL-NY believes that people who experience addiction or other drug-related problems should receive care and support, and that no one should ever be arrested or incarcerated for simple possession or use of drugs. Many of our members face ithe “war on drugs,” a concept founded on racism and fueled by billions of dollars that kills people, destroys families and communities, undermines our democracy, and enforces economic inequality.
From our original founding as the NYC AIDS Housing Network, ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been at the forefront of our mission. Central to our approach has been a commitment to fighting for basic needs, especially housing, for people living with HIV. In recent years, VOCAL-NY has also been a leading member of the coalition that made New York State the first jurisdiction in the world to commit to a plan to end AIDS.
More than 200,000 New Yorkers are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which can lead to severe liver disease and now accounts for more deaths each year than HIV/AIDS nationwide. Most people with chronic HCV can be easily cured with treatment that has become newly available, although many do not know their status and too few of those who do are connected to care. At VOCAL-NY, we believe that ending the epidemic requires that people living with or affected by HCV have the opportunity to have their voices heard and their concerns considered.
VOCAL-NY’s Civil Rights Union is working to end mass incarceration by ending discriminatory and abusive policing practices and removing barriers to jobs, housing & voting for people with conviction histories. Far too many New Yorkers are incarcerated because our criminal justice system is disproportionately harsh on communities of color, particularly those who are poor, living with mental illness, drug users, and the homeless.
When we began in 1999, VOCAL-NY (then the NYC AIDS Housing Network) emerged as one of the leading groups to win quality, stable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS to improve health outcomes, and literal life expectancies of people whose homelessness could have been a death sentence. During these early years we joined coalitions to support the larger fight for affordable housing for all, and to end homelessness. We played a leading role in campaigns to strengthen rent laws, and build more affordable housing.
VOCAL-NY is committed to expanding the capacity of our member base to participate meaningfully in American Democracy. We acknowledge the role that systemic injustices informed by race, geographic location, among other systemic variables plays into policy and practice that often repress vulnerable communities from civic participation.