VOCAL-NY (formerly known as the NY Aids Housing Network) is a statewide grassroots membership group that builds power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, the drug war, homelessness and mass incarceration, with the ultimate aim of creating healthier and more just communities. Historically, the organization operated out of two floors within a three-story building located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, where they provided crucial harm reduction and advocacy services for almost two decades.
In 2017, VOCAL-NY partnered with Hester Street (HST) to identify real estate options for the acquisition and renovation of a new permanent headquarters for their work. Our team conducted surveys and identified the Boerum Hill location as critical to the organization’s constituents given its proximity to Barclays Center/Atlantic Ave and the public transportation options that serve surrounding low-income communities,
After VOCAL’s former location was purchased by another developer, HST worked with VOCAL-NY to acquire and renovate a 6,000-square foot building located at 300 Douglass Street in Downtown Brooklyn. HST supported VOCAL throughout their capital project, from pre-development and vision planning through acquisition and construction management. HST’s support for VOCAL-NY was key to securing a $3 million capital grant for acquisition and a $770K capital grant for renovation from the NYC Council, ensuring a permanent home for harm reduction services and advocacy in the heart of Brooklyn.
As of April 2023, VOCAL-NY staff now operate from their new Drop-In Center, where they continue to offer direct services, including syringe access and disposal; HIV and hepatitis C testing; overdose prevention trainings; and support groups. This new acquisition helps reduce VOCAL’s ongoing monthly expenses, with a monthly mortgage that is lower than their previous rent while increasing their office/program space and ensuring that more resources are focused on staffing and services.