Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , May 20, 2013
Image from NYC Independent Budget Office
For years, homeless people and people living with HIV/AIDS have been pushed aside in the New York City budget dance, and Housing Works has doggedly lobbied the mayor and city council to make the best funding decisions around HIV prevention and care, especially for those most at-risk: drug users, transgender people, people of color, the poor, the homeless, and those with mental illnesses.
And believe it or not, NYC Comptroller (and Mayoral candidate) John Liu wants more people to get involved and make their voices heard when it comes to the city budget.
On Tuesday, May 7th, Liu launched “The People’s Budget NYC,” an interactive website that asks NYC residents to vote on what budget items are most important to them. The issues are organized by ideas, including: Community Engagement, Economic Security, Health & Wellness, Housing & Homelessness, Public Education, Small Business, and Transit, among others. What’s more, people are encouraged to submit their own ideas for the city budget. (Here’s hoping to a city-mandated 4-day work week in FY2014!).
However, it remains unclear how useful this new website will be for the homeless and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Indeed, when you search “HIV/AIDS,” only two items show up: “HOUSING AID FOR THOSE WITH HIV AND AIDS” (all caps in the original, which was submitted by the Comptroller’s office) and “Invest in Public Health Services,” a user-submitted idea. While these are good ideas, it is dismaying to see only two items under HIV/AIDS, and only one of which was actually spearheaded by the city. With one of the largest HIV/AIDS populations across the country, New York City must have an integrated strategy to address the disease in the city.
Similarly, when you search “homelessness,” again, there are only two items: “HOUSING VOUCHERS FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES” (apparently the Comptroller’s office really likes to type in all caps), and “Create incentive for lowering rents in privately own houses.”
While many of us may not be surprised by the lack of policies dedicated to HIV/AIDS and homelessness issues in the city budget, The People’s Budget NYC serves as a great platform for people to make their voices and needs heard! We must continue to vote for ideas and policies that prioritize the needs of the city’s most vulnerable, including those who are affected by and living with the disease.
So let’s do this! Log on through your Facebook or Twitter accounts and submit new policies or ideas that can help people living with the disease. Vote for policies that prioritize people over profits, and that helps everyone find stable and affordable housing, and make sure you forward your submissions or ideas to your networks and encourage them to participate as well!
Let’s bring the voice back to the people!
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