Press Statements

Landmark Year for VOCAL-NY: More Legislative Victories This Session Than in Any Other Session in 20+ Year History

June 11, 2021


June 11, 2021


Mariah McGough,


Leaders Now Call on Governor Cuomo Demanding He Signs Life-Saving Bills Into Law 

NEW YORK — Following the close of the 2021 legislative session in New York State, VOCAL-NY has successfully passed several pieces of priority legislation laid out in the 2021-2022 State Legislative Platform. The majority of these campaigns have been years in the making and reflect the tireless efforts of grassroots leaders and members of VOCAL-NY. 

In response to the historic year of progress for New Yorkers who are homeless, people who use drugs, and formerly incarcerated, VOCAL-NY released the following statement, attributable to Paulette Soltani, Political Director with VOCAL-NY:

“This session, marginalized New Yorkers who have long been ignored by our state fought hard and won big. We’ve worked for years to create more paths to permanent housing, expand access to life-saving public health tools and treatment, and ensure that people who are formerly incarcerated have a seat at the table. We are so proud of these legislative victories, and even prouder of the countless leaders who never gave up hope in seeing this day come. 

These wins signal a monumental shift on many of the issues most elected officials wouldn’t even touch in recent history. These victories aren’t a coincidence — but a result of New Yorkers impacted by these issues being fed up with the state’s approach to several intersecting crises. It goes to show that when we fight, we win.

We look to Governor Cuomo now to sign these life-saving bills. We expect nothing less.”


The passage of the New York state budget saw many major victories for New Yorkers, thanks to a weakened Governor Cuomo and a movement determined to win transformational change — but many people were left behind. The budget provided no meaningful relief to the over 92,000 New Yorkers living in shelters or on the streets across the state, nor did it make critical investments to reverse record high overdose deaths. Meanwhile, the state has failed to adequately respond to the urgent needs of its incarcerated constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the historic injustices of mass incarceration. 

With tens of thousands of New Yorkers living in shelters or on the streets, and last year was  the worst year on record for overdose deaths, VOCAL-NY demanded lawmakers take action on the intersecting crises. By the end of session, we are proud to have helped pass the following legislative priorities:

  • Repealing Jim Crow Prison-Voting Bans (S3073/A6646)

  • Removing Prior Authorization for Medication-Assisted Treatment for New Yorkers Enrolled in Medicaid (S649A/A2030)

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in all NYS Prisons and Jails (S1795/A533)

  • Decriminalize Syringes and Remove Limits at Expanded Syringe Access Programs (ESAP) (S2523/A868)

  • The House Our Neighbors With Dignity Act (HONDA) (S5257/A6593

Additionally, Governor Cuomo signed HALT Solitary Confinement and Marijuana Justice legislation. VOCAL-NY urges the governor to follow suit and sign the rest of the legislative priorities passed this session. 


Recent News

Scroll to Top
Skip to content