December 14, 2009
Housing Works mourns the loss of Dennis deLeon, who served as Executive Director of the Latino Commission on AIDS for nearly 20 years. DeLeon, who spent much of the last six months in hospice care in Rivington House, passed away this morning. He had been living with HIV for more than 25 years.
In 1993, DeLeon was serving as New York City human rights commissioner when he publicly disclosed his HIV-positive status in the New York Times. He was one of the first city officials to take this courageous step.
DeLeon served as cochair and then chair of the Housing Works Board of Directors from 1990 to 1996. Prior to taking the position at the Latino Commission, Dennis served for four years as New York City's Human Rights Commissioner, appointed by Mayor David Dinkins.
"Dennis was an outspoken leader in the AIDS community, not only in New York, but around the nation, in particular advocating for Latino inclusion and the development of strategies that would address the disproportionate rates of HIV infection among Latinos throughout the country. His efforts led to the first Latino National AIDS Agenda that was released two years ago," said Housing Works President and CEO Charles King. "Housing Works will always be in his debt for the leadership he provided in our early years, when we never had enough money but always believed we could do anything we dreamed."
We will post information about services for deLeon when they become available.