By Sam Levin Wed., Feb. 29 2012
And you thought your morning commute was rough.
HIV/AIDS activists from Voices Of Community Advocates & Leaders (VOCAL-NY) — an organization that advocates for the rights of HIV-positive New Yorkers — got up bright and early this to stakeout and protest Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar at his Brooklyn Heights home before he left for work.
And they found him.
Not satisfied with simply protesting outside his home, the group of 50 or so activists, armed with their vocal chords and noisemakers, followed him into the Clark Street 2/3 subway station and rode with him all the way to his office in lower Manhattan. Protesting him. The entire time.
You’re probably wondering at this point who the heck this dude is and why these activists are angry enough to gather in Brooklyn at 7:30 a.m. Fear not! Runnin’ Scared — regretfully unable to attend the protest — has some answers for you.
Doar, as the HRA commissioner, oversees the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration, or HASA, which supports the city’s HIV-positive population through housing, health care, and other services. The folks protesting him say they have a number of reasons they are angry with him and want to grab his attention any way they can. Earlier this month,VOCAL-NY rallied outside of Doar’s office to protest budget cuts and a drug screening policy for HASA clients applying for rental assistance who have fallen behind on rent. The group wants the city to restore $10 million that would be eliminated in budget cuts next year, and the advocates say this drug testing policy is a waste of money that unnecessarily burdens residents and unfairly targets HIV-positive residents who don’t have drug problems.
Their outrage was further fueled last week when the group got its hands on a staff letter written by Doar about an agency restructuring that would move HASA clients under a different program within the HRA. VOCAL-NY criticized the shift as untransparent and inappropriate, since it would put HIV-positive New Yorkers under the jurisdiction of a division that focuses on finding jobs. The sum total impact of all these cuts and policy shifts could lead to more HIV-positive New Yorkers living on the streets without the services they need, the advocates are charging.
Read the full story online at the Village Voice.