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Op-Ed: Why I Occupied Wall Street

October 6, 2011

Op-Ed: Why I Occupied Wall Street

Down on Wall Street, a true grassroots movement is growing. People of all races, creeds, genders and sexual orientations have come together to demand something momentous: A more just economy.

Last night, along with tens of thousands of other New Yorkers -- as well as clients and colleagues from Housing Works -- I joined them.

Here is why: The Occupy Wall Street movement can do a lot to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. So, instead of sitting behind my desk, figuring out how we are going to pay our bills or how to find money for the next housing project, I took to the streets.

Every day, we hear how cities and states are slashing budgets, cutting jobs and eliminating or reducing services needed by our friends, relatives and neighbors because there just isn't enough money. Somehow, though, our federal government has found a way to launch two wars, bail out big banks and dish out major tax breaks to corporations and billionaires.

I marched last night because without food stamps, Housing Works clients can't eat. Without Medicaid, Medicare or AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, they can't see a doctor or get medication. Without disability benefits, they can't pay their rent. And without student aid, they can't access education and become the innovative, productive community members they want to be.

I marched because there are now nearly 9,000 people in the U.S. who cannot access critical AIDS medication through our nation's drug assistance programs. I marched because last night more than 38,000 New York City residents had to sleep in homeless shelters. I marched because this movement can serve as a launching pad for real change.

And I marched because that's what my friend Keith Cylar would have wanted.

Andrew Coamey is CFO and senior vice president for housing, Housing Works.

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This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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