Yesterday, I was honored to attend a protest of New York State Governor David Paterson, who vetoed important legislation that would have capped rent for people living with AIDS in subsidized housing at 30% of their income. Organized by the fabulous NYCAHN/VOCAL, it was full of beautiful people and beautiful rage.
I go to a lot of protests, although in truth not nearly as many as I’d like to go to, and this was the best I’ve been to in a long time. The logistics were tight, the chants were hot, and the folks weren’t afraid to put their selves on the line. Five people got arrested for blocking the entrance to the building. As a movement we’ve gotten away from this edgy, risk-taking kind of action, and it did my cold cold heart good to be a part of it.
From NYCAHN’s listserv announcement, summarizing their work on this campaign:
HIGHLIGHTS OF MEDIA COVERAGE
Associated Press / MSNBC (and over 40 other outlets): NY governor vetoes popular AIDS, HIV housing bill (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39257961)
The New York City AIDS Housing Network said the veto will leaves 11,000 people with AIDS “teetering on the brink of homelessness.” They plan a Monday morning rally. [also quotes campaign leader Jim Lister]
Observer: Nobody (But Bloomberg) Happy About AIDS Rent Veto (http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/nobody-bloomberg-happy-about-aids-rent-veto)
“Even though I’m in a rental assistance program, I’m constantly forced to rob Peter to pay Paul. One month I pay the gas and telephone bill and the next month I pay the light bill, all the while hoping that nothing gets shut off,” James Dean, who pays 62 percent of his monthly disability income toward rent.
Wall Street Journal: Paterson Veto Blocks a Cap On Rent for Ill (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704416904575502102440795416.html)
Sean Barry, director of NYC AIDS Housing Network, denounced Mr. Paterson for opting to “stand with Mayor Bloomberg and his failed policies around HIV/AIDS and homelessness in New York City. This is a missed opportunity to save New York money and, far worse, it means thousands more people living with HIV/AIDS and their families will be in the shelter system,” he said.
NY1: Paterson Vetoes Bill To Aid AIDS Patients With Rent, Utilities (http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/politics/125717/paterson-vetoes-bill-to-aid-aids-patients-with-rent–utilities/)
Wanda Hernandez, a resident of Belmont, Bronx [and NYCAHN/VOCAL Board member], is one of approximately 11,000 city residents who the governor’s veto directly affects. For the past 15 years, Hernandez has lived with HIV. She survives on Social Security checks, but after paying her rent, she has little remaining money to make ends meet. ”Every single month, I have no money left,” she said. “If I get to pay four bills, that’s a lot.”
Gay City News: Paterson Vetoes AIDS Rent Cap Bill (http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2010/09/20/gay_city_news/news/doc4c980a6fad215586802000.txt)
James Dean, 58, a NYCAHN board member and HASA client, said he pays 62 percent of his monthly disability toward rent. “Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg have no idea about the difficult choices I make every day to make ends meet and still pay my rent,” he said. “One month I pay the gas and telephone bill and the next month I pay the light bill, all the while hoping that nothing gets shut off. I do things like skip laundry and buy groceries on credit just to hang on to my home.”
Gothamist: “Protesters Rally Over Paterson’s HIV/AIDS Rent Protection Veto” (http://gothamist.com/2010/09/20/protesters_rally_over_patersons_hiv.php)
Director Sean Barry said in a statement, “Governor Paterson knows this bill would have immediately begun saving our state money by keeping people in their homes and out of HASA’s expensive shelter system…Tragically, he instead caved to misguided pressure from Mayor Bloomberg, whose administration utterly lacks credibility on these issues.”
Campaign leaders were also interviewed on NBC New York Nightly News and WBAI radio.
It’s primary day in New York City, and this fiercely partisan town is full of Democrat contenders.
So the streets are full of crap and balled-up flyers and fallen posters and little cards urging me to vote for somebody. Like this little tableau.
It always makes me sad, seeing so much money and paper get wasted in primaries and electins. I’m all for a flourishing democracy, and if we got some folks who would actually act in the interests of low-income New Yorkers I’d say spend away, but we don’t.