Captal New York: AIDS housing activists protest city drug screening policy

AIDS housing activists protest city drug screening policy

BY ELIZABETH GONZALEZ

9:43 am Feb. 20, 2012

The protesters wanted a restoration of millions of dollars in city budget cuts that would affect housing and health care aid to H.I.V.-positive New Yorkers. They also wanted the city to reverse a policy mandating drug testing for applicants for rental assistance from H.I.V./AIDS Services Administration (HASA).

Reduced to a chant at a demonstration in front of the offices of HASA on Friday, as the protesters called on Commissioner Robert Doar to change the policy, the demands were rendered as: “What do we want? AIDS Housing. When do we want it? Now.”

“Instead of getting tough on homelessness, you’re getting tough on people with AIDS,” shouted Bobby Tolbert, a Vocal-NY board member, as circling protestors repeated after him. “Commissioner Doar, that is unacceptable.”

The declared mission of Vocal-NY, which organized the demonstration, is to help low-income New Yorkers diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Most of the board members are themselves affected by the disease, including Tolbert.

“I had a long fight with addiction,” said Tolbert.

He said that although he has “outgrown the supportive system” and therefore the policy does not affect him, “it affects my colleagues.”

He feels the drug-screening mandate will alienate long-term drug users, and push them even farther away from recovery.

Read the full article at Capital New York.

Drug Policy, HIV/AIDS, Media Coverage

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