Archive for the ‘News’ Category

NYS Withholding Payments to HVCS: Substance Use Programs Could Be Impacted

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Gotham Gazette reported on New York State’s withholding of payments on contractual services already provided by HVCS and its potential impact on programs and staffing. HVCS is not the only nonprofit facing this dilemma by far. Thanks to Gotham Gazette for covering this issue.

“With the pandemic blowing a hole in the economy and leading to a drastic drop in state tax revenue, budget officials have for months been withholding payments for state contracts to manage cash flows. Among the victims of that fiscal approach are substance use treatment providers who are being forced to cut already-limited services and consider staff layoffs and furloughs, which they say will likely lead to a sharp increase in overdoses and new disease outbreaks around the state.”

Read the full article here.

Aging In Prison: A RealHealth Article Includes Perspective From HVCS

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Jennifer Brathwaite, our Director of Education and Prevention, is quoted in this two-part article on aging in prison on RealHealth.com.

This a lengthy yet eye-opening article that is well worth the read. Jennifer’s contributing quotes appear in Part Two.

Here’s an excerpt:

Brathwaite finds that sometimes formerly incarcerated seniors may not be aware and educated about issues concerning HIV. “While I wouldn’t want to stereotype or put everyone in the same group, I think that with our older population, there is less knowledge or access to information that’s current about the advancements in this area and in what we know about HIV, hep C, STIs [sexually transmitted infections], infectious disease transmission and things like that,” she observes. “I think there’s still a lot of stigma, specifically around HIV, and a lack of knowledge about how the virus is transmitted.”

Part One

Part Two

 

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Is Here To Help!

Friday, July 17th, 2020

ADAP 2020

 

ADAP Espanol

NYS Extends Open Enrollment To August 15, 2020

Friday, July 17th, 2020

The Governor announced on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through August 15, 2020.

You can read the full press release at the following link:

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/part-new-yorks-ongoing-response-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-announces-special-health

Mount Vernon Office Only Open Thurs/Fri

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Mount Vernon food closet

Starting the week of July 20, 2020, our Mount Vernon office will only be open on Thursdays and Fridays, until further notice. Appointments are necessary. Talk to an HVCS staffer or call (914) 785-8267.

HVCS In The News: Funding Freeze Puts Squeeze on New York Providers of Social Services

Friday, June 12th, 2020

From the Wall Street Journal. View the original article here (paid subscription may be required)

Money is running out to help AIDS patients pay rents; schools are also on edge

Members of the New York City Department of Probation distributed food at a Bronx pantry in late April.

By Jimmy Vielkind

ALBANY, N.Y.—Social service providers say they are struggling as New York’s state government withholds grant payments in response to the novel coronavirus crisis.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget division froze payments to municipalities and nonprofit agencies, and withheld scheduled raises to some workers in April after revenues crashed as a result of the pandemic.

State revenues are $13.3 billion below expectations, according to the most recent estimate. The state has held up nearly $4 billion of payments, as the Democratic governor pushes Congress for more aid. The state also borrowed $1 billion last month to help it remain solvent until income tax payments, which were previously due in April, start arriving in July. Officials plan to borrow an additional $3.5 billion this week.

As the state holds on to cash, some providers said they are contemplating layoffs and other measures. ACR Health, a Syracuse-based nonprofit that services AIDS patients and others throughout central New York, relies on state grants for almost 88% of its $12 million annual budget, Executive Director Wil Murtaugh said.

Mr. Murtaugh said his group is owed more than $1 million for services that were performed. As a result, ACR has been unable to make rental assistance payments for 221 HIV-positive people in private facilities.

“I don’t think it’s smart to have immunocompromised people be homeless,” Mr. Murtaugh said in an interview. Mr. Cuomo, through an executive order, has put a moratorium on evictions through Aug. 20.

The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, last month approved $1 trillion in additional aid for state and local governments, including $35 billion for New York, as part of a $3 trillion economic relief package.

Republicans who control the Senate, however, are skeptical about sending money to states for expenses they see as unrelated to the pandemic. The Senate is expected to approve another relief bill by the beginning of August, with the size and scope of more assistance to states and municipalities set to be one of the central areas of contention between the parties.

ACR Health is part of a network of New York agencies created in the 1980s in response to the AIDS epidemic. Their mandate has subsequently expanded, said Andrea Straus, executive director of Hudson Valley Community Services Inc.

Her organization has 11 different state contracts that support the work of 71 of the organization’s employees. Ms. Straus said a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program has helped her organization avoid layoffs, but it will re-evaluate the situation this summer.

“Our staff are essential, but they’re not going to get paid? It seems so counterintuitive,” Ms. Straus said. “They owe us $908,634.40. And there’s about another $400,000 for May.”

Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the state Budget Division, said the payment delays could translate into permanent reductions of 20%. “This is exactly why we have been calling on the federal government to provide the resources states need—without federal action, the most vulnerable among us will suffer,” he said.

School districts and municipalities are also on edge. The state was due to release $247 million of aid to Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse on June 25, but Budget Director Robert Mujica previously told The Wall Street Journal that the grants wouldn’t be released without federal action.

“Uncertainty abounds,” said Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York State Conference of Mayors, which represents city and village leaders.

New York officials did provide clarity this week for road contractors when they allocated $544 million that will be sent to municipalities for paving. Frank Suits Jr., president of the Suit-Kote construction firm based in Cortland, N.Y., said he was preparing to lay off hundreds of workers who normally spend the summer working on road projects. He has now scrapped those plans.

Wyoming County High Superintendent Todd Gadd said even though money isn’t expected until later in the year, municipalities will now execute contracts and fix roads during New York’s limited summer construction season. The state warned, though, that the allocations could be reduced by 20%.

“It’s good we can get projects started, but there’s still that potential cut looming,” Mr. Gadd said.

For other organizations, the payment delays are closer to an annoyance than a cataclysm. Food Pantries for the Capital District, which helps transport food and supplies to 65 pantries in the Albany area, last year received a $15,000 state grant to fund the operation of an additional delivery truck.

Natasha Pernicka, the organization’s executive director, said the state is supposed to reimburse it $970 a month for lease payments. The group has had to eat the cost.

“A lot of organizations don’t have flexibility, and their cash flows are very tenuous,” Ms. Pernicka said. “The intention of donors right now is to pay for Covid response—not because we’re waiting for state payments to come through.”

 

 

Open Letter to HVCS Supporters: NOEP Program in Jeopardy

Friday, June 12th, 2020

Every day brings stark news of how the coronavirus pandemic has worsened hunger in New York State. Because we know hunger will remain a challenge throughout the economic downturn, we need to re-double our efforts to enroll people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). New York’s Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) provides free, confidential services to help people learn about and apply for SNAP benefits.

Thanks to NOEP, Hudson Valley Community Services has been able to provide SNAP application assistance to 400 individuals and 625 households each year so they can afford the food they need. NOEP is a critical front-line response for low income families, seniors, disabled and veterans who are food insecure and need help applying for benefits.

Since the start of the pandemic, requests for NOEP assistance have increased dramatically. With state budget cuts looming, funding for NOEP services is at risk and our community may lose these critical services.  The state has rightfully invested millions of dollars into food banks to meet the immediate needs of New Yorkers who need food now. However, SNAP benefits will provide long-term relief to struggling families. NOEP services help people apply for SNAP and the state’s investment in NOEP is needed now more than ever. NOEP services across the State, including in the Mid-Hudson Valley, are at risk and are currently scheduled to end in June. We are asking that concerned citizens reach out to Gov. Cuomo now to help save these imperiled services.

In Support of Black Lives Matter

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

The events of the last few weeks have been heart wrenching. The horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Maurice Gordon are just some of the most recent individuals lost in a 400-year-long history of violence and brutality against Black Americans in this country. Three of those killings were at the hands of police officers sworn to protect all people, yet again illustrating the systemic and pervasive racism that is so deeply rooted in this country’s origins, institutions, policies and our own implicit bias. As these killings have shocked and angered us, we recognize this as a critical moment for HVCS to stand publically in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to demand and participate in the dismantling of structural oppression.

These recent killings come amid a pandemic that has further exposed the inequities that contribute to a higher burden of illness in communities of color. Because of our involvement in the fight against HIV, chronic health conditions and substance use disorder, HVCS has always been aware of the toll that systemic racism takes on the health outcomes of Black and Brown people.

It is not enough to be an ally in these times. We have an obligation to be actively anti-racist and take actions that will help move this society towards a more just, equitable and inclusive one. In the context of HVCS’ work, this means re-doubling our commitment to informing all of our decisions with a lens of racial justice and health equity.

May we all deepen our understanding and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and the systemic racism that affects all people of color. For the white people in our community, that means examining our privilege and implicit bias – to understand why we can exercise or enjoy public parks without looking over our shoulders or carrying the anxiety that we are subject to suspicion or violence. We must also understand why we don’t face an extra layer of worry or outright fear when we encounter police and other public safety personnel, if we go to them to ask, innocently, for assistance.

For all of us, it means working together to consciously dismantle racist systems and structures, to build health and racial equity in all aspects of our work, particularly disparate health outcomes, and to actively resist complacency about the biases that fuel violence, structural, systemic and personal, against Black people.

Hudson Valley Community Services

Webinar Registration for POZ at Home: Coping With COVID-19 and HIV

Friday, May 29th, 2020

On Monday, June 1, 2020 at 7:00 pm EST, POZ Magazine is hosting a webinar entitled “POZ at Home – Coping With COVID-19 and HIV.” This webinar is free. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WckQRhb3QiOudAY1IoJWJg

This event is being produced by POZ At Home.

Speakers

Mark S. King
Award-winning blogger, author, speaker and HIV/AIDS advocate
Mark S. King is an award-winning blogger, author, speaker and HIV/AIDS advocate who has been involved in HIV causes since testing positive in 1985. His blog, My Fabulous Disease, has been nominated for five consecutive GLAAD Media Awards (2015-2020) and was awarded the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s “Excellence in Blogging” honor in 2014 and 2016.

Venita Ray
Deputy Director @PWN-USA
Venita Ray is the deputy director of PWN-USA. She previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors and has more than 20 years of experience working in underserved communities on social justice issues including affordable housing, environmental justice, health care and HIV.

Charles Sanchez
HIV+ Writer, Performer, Director and Activist
Charles Sanchez is a gay, HIV+ writer, performer, director and activist living in New York City. He is one of the co-founders of Skipping Boyz Productions, and conceived, writes and stars in the musical comedy web series, Merce, which was named Best HIV/AIDS Content at America’s Rainbow Film Festival in 2016 and won the Audience Award for Short Film at the 2017 Kaleidoscope Film Festival.

Dutchess Co Regional Chamber of Commerce Donates Face Masks

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Complimentary reusable cloth face coverings were made available to essential businesses and nonprofit organizations located in Dutchess County by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. We arranged a pickup on May 15.

Thanks again for this donation of critical personal protective equipment!

Donated masks and hand sanitizer DCRCOC members distributing face masks to essential businesses