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City Limits: Decade-Long Fight to Decriminalize Syringe Possession in NY Awaits New Gov’s Signature

“We were finally able to get it through the Assembly and the Senate,” said Biz Berthy, drug policy campaign coordinator for the advocacy group Vocal-NY, who said the state syringe possession law demonstrates the “massive inconsistencies between the penal code and the health code.” Prior versions of the bill were introduced during each legislative session dating back to 2015, but never managed to pass.

Democrat & Chronicle: ‘Housing is a human right!’ Roc City-Wide Tenant Union, supporters rally for local reforms

Breyana Clark of Vocal-NY spoke in support of the union and of the bill.

“Prioritizing the Black mother’s experience is what will begin to lift us out of this housing crises,” she said. “We prioritize the Black mother’s experience by passing the good cause protection. Our current housing practices breed nothing but gentrification and pushes our people further into poverty.”

Filter: On International Overdose Awareness Day, New Yorkers’ Demands Are Clear

“I remember when we were losing someone every three hours to overdose. Then it was five. Then it was three. Now we’re losing someone every hour and 48 minutes,” Marilyn Reyes, a community leader with VOCAL-NY User’s Union and co-director of Peer Network of New York, told Filter. “It’s horrifying.”

Now, newly inaugurated Governor Kathy Hochul has the opportunity to immediately begin addressing the harms perpetuated by Cuomo’s administration, and to usher in a new era of healing for marginalized New Yorkers.

New York Focus: A Wave of Upstate Cities Could Ban Eviction Without “Good Cause”

Smith, a statewide organizer with the advocacy group VOCAL-NY since 2017 and early member of the Housing Justice for All coalition, said that ending the cycle of precarious housing will be among her top priorities when Rochester’s new city council is seated in January.

“As we talk about people having stable housing, first we want to make sure that we are dealing with evictions and people not being homeless, so one of our first steps has to be good cause,” she said.

New York Times: 8,000 Homeless People to Be Moved From Hotels to Shelters, New York Says

At a small protest outside Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, on Monday, homeless people and organizers from the advocacy group Vocal-NY demanded that the homeless remain in the hotels until they could be offered permanent apartments.

“Why the rush to put us back into the shelters now?” said Milton Perez, 45, who has spent five years in the shelter system. “Why the rush to put us in danger?”

NBC News: Forty years after first documented AIDS cases, survivors reckon with ‘dichotomy of feelings’

“AIDS in the United States is not over, and especially it’s not over in the Global South or around the world,” said Jawanza James Williams, the director of organizing at VOCAL-NY, a nonprofit that helps low-income people impacted by HIV and AIDS. “There’s a sort of tendency to talk in the past tense, as if HIV and AIDS, as an epidemic, has been ended in the States, and it erases the realities and the experiences of Black people, of brown people, or poor people, people that are uninsured, and it really misses the mark.”

City Limits: City Council Votes to Raise Value of Housing Vouchers for Homeless New Yorkers

VOCAL-NY Housing Campaign Coordinator Joseph Loonam said the “victory is a testament to the power of homeless New Yorkers who fought for this bill.”

“But unfortunately, we did not get all the reforms we needed,” Loonam added. “In the last days of negotiations with the Administration, the City Council negotiated away key provisions that protected people from losing their voucher — without any input from directly impacted New Yorkers.”

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