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Housing Works Joins ACT-UP 25th Anniversary NYC Demonstration

By Kenyon Farrow

April 12, 2012

A 25th Anniversary Direct Action: Act Up and Occupy! Tax Wall St! End AIDS! April 25th, 2012

Housing Works will once again join forces with AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT-UP), to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the organization that gave birth to Housing Works. The massive demonstration and march will take place on Wednesday, April 25th, starting at 11am at City Hall and ending on Wall Street. Hundreds of protestors are expected to converge for a day-long siege in Lower Manhattan to demand local, national and international governments target the 1% to fix the global economic crisis, and to end budget-balancing on the backs of poor people with HIV.

"ACT-UP formed 25 years ago to demand that NYC and the nation put resources into helping people with AIDS access basic care and services," said Charles King, CEO for Housing Works. "Today, Housing Works is still fighting for the same demands for people -- the right to housing for people with HIV, the right to treatment and care, and the right to prevention methods like access to syringes and condoms."

Housing Works has always emphasized that "housing is the key" to ending the AIDS epidemic, and now supported by plenty of research. Despite this fact, NYC's social services have made the reality of affordable housing even more difficult for people with HIV. Housing Works has been actively advocating against recent changes to NYC's policies for people living with AIDS under the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA).

In February 2011, NYC's Human Resources Administration HRA announced it would no longer pay the full brokers' fee for HASA clients in search of housing. It would only pay half. At the same time, they also decided to issue vouchers -- not checks -- to pay security deposits to landlords who have tenants on public assistance. As a result, many brokers and landlords alike no longer want to work with HASA clients, leaving many with fewer rental options.

This past December, HRA Commissioner Robert Doar announced a new policy that would allow HASA to refuse permanent housing to people who did not pass a substance use screening and refused treatment prescribed by the city. The policy would penalize HASA clients who wanted assistance in rent arrears payments or with getting into permanent housing.

"ACT-UP fought for many of the services for people with HIV that exist in New York City like HASA, and now we're fighting to prevent those services from being cut due to bad budget policy," said Kristin Goodwin, director of NYC policy and organizing for Housing Works. "Poor people with HIV didn't cause the economic crisis, and they should not be forced to have their services cut because of the actions of bankers and hedge fund managers."

ACT-UP and its allies will also be using the march to pump up the volume on a growing nationwide outcry for a "Financial Speculation Tax" (Fi.S.T.). This policy would involve a small tax -- a mere fraction of one percent -- on speculative trading by Wall Street investment banks, hedge funds and other large financial institutions. Activists say funds from the tax would be invested in providing full access to treatment and services -- such as housing -- for people with HIV across the globe.

Additional organizations are expected to join the demonstration in New York City, Health GAP, National Nurses United, OWS Healthcare for the 99% Working Group, Visual AIDS, MIX NYC, Le Petit Versailles, Queerocracy, Queering OWS and others.

On the day of the march, follow @housingworks on Twitter for live video and photos, and we'll be using the hashtag #ACTUP25.

Housing Works currently has 166 units of housing, and is planning to add 500 units over five years. One day following the action, Housing Works will be displaying a model of one of its housing units at its Design On A Dime event, where proceeds will be going to support a new 12 unit apartment building in Brooklyn scheduled to open later this year. Housing Works will be conducting press tours of the model unit on display at Design on a Dime on April 26th following the Act Up anniversary events. To schedule a tour, email Kenyon Farrow, Communications Manager at k.farrow@housingworks.org.




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