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Wanda Hernandez

Wanda Hernandez is an outspoken advocate for social justice in New York.

April 27th, 2010 2:36 AM

Why I’ll Be At the Showdown on Wall Street this Thursday

The big banks on Wall Street got a bailout but the rest of New York is sinking. The financial crisis created a painful catch-22: the recession means there’s more need for public services, but it also created historic city and state budget deficits that make it harder to provide them.

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a devastating budget for the coming year. The mayor’s recession budget will cut into our schools, parks, public safety and health care programs.  And for me, it could mean less access to food stamps, housing assistance and other services I need to survive as a woman living with HIV.

One proposed cut would eliminate one-third of case workers who help low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS access public services.  The housing, food, transportation and other assistance we need these case workers for aren’t luxuries.  They are basic necessities.  There are certain medications you can’t take on an empty stomach, you need adequate food and nutrition.  When you don’t have housing, you can’t even think about taking medication or going to the doctor because of the stress of trying to get a roof over your head.  Taking away case workers means taking away access to these services.  Plus, it means hundreds of hard working New Yorkers lose their jobs.

Another set of proposed budget cuts would attack supportive housing programs that help people living with HIV/AIDS who are chronically homeless and have a history of mental health and drug use issues.  I’m fortunate that I didn’t need that kind of assistance, but there are over 4,000 New Yorkers who do.   Another leader at the New York City AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) has told me about how important his supportive housing program was when he came back home after 17 years in a prison outside of Buffalo.  When he was released, he didn’t know where to go and had been living with HIV for more than twenty years at the time. The mayor’s proposed cuts would mean many of these programs could no longer operate effectively and some would likely shut down.

These are just a couple examples of what may happen because big banks on Wall Street gambled with our economy.  What they really did is gamble with our lives and communities.  And while it’s been back to business as usual for them, the rest of New York may never be the same again.

This is why I’ll be at the Showdown on Wall Street this Thursday -  April 29th. I’ll be joining over 10,000 people – working families and community groups - will be calling for Wall Street accountability, the creation of good jobs now and an end to predatory lending practices. The Showdown is being organized by National People’s Action (NPA) and the AFL-CIO.  NPA is a network of community power organizations from across the country, and many of our affiliates are also staging Showdowns in other cities like Kansas City, Charlotte and San Francisco.

It’s clear the big banks can’t be trusted to regulate themselves.  And until we fix the problems that led to the current financial crisis, we can’t fix our local budgets and start creating jobs again.  President Obama, the Senate and the bankers on Wall Street, many of whom received obscene bonuses recently, need to keep the rest of us in mind who had nothing to do with causing the financial crisis but have had to deal with the consequences.

I urge everyone to JOIN THE MOVEMENT for Wall Street accountability and financial reform now!

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