Brooklyn, NY

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,232,998
Expenses: $2,062,201
Assets: $1,282,312



Executive Directors:

Alyssa Aguilera

Jeremy Saunders



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VOCAL-NY, or Voices of Community Activists and Leaders, is a New York-based membership organization that advocates for liberal policies relating to criminal justice, drug policy, housing, and homelessness, and in favor of increased state spending on social services. The group was originally known as the New York AIDS Housing Network.

Policing Policy

VOCAL-NY was a leader in protests against police in the summer and fall of 2020, organizing anti-police marches throughout several boroughs of New York City. 1 In June 2020, VOCAL-NY led protests at New York’s city hall as the city council was finalizing the budget for fiscal year 2021. Protestors, calling themselves “Occupy City Hall,” demanded that the council cut one-sixth of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget and redistribute the money to housing and other social services agencies. VOCAL-NY’s leadership criticized New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) opposition to the plan as “unconscionable” and the city council’s support for the proposal as amounting to no more than “a vague press release.” 2 Ultimately, the city cut the NYPD budget by about $282 million. 3

In July 2020, staff members of VOCAL-NY participated in protests calling for cuts to the police budget that included demonstrations outside the apartment of city council speaker Corey Johnson’s (D-Manhattan) boyfriend. The protests caused some damage to the building. Shortly thereafter, Johnson zeroed out a planned $2.5 million appropriation in the city’s budget that would have permitted VOCAL-NY to buy its Brooklyn headquarters building. Though Johnson’s office denied that the move was retaliatory, VOCAL-NY’s co-executive director Jeremy Saunders accused Johnson of removing the appropriation after “getting angry on a whim.” 4

Drug Rehab and Housing Advocacy

VOCAL-NY Drug Policy Coordinator Jasmine Budnella sharply criticized New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for comments he made advocating for arrests of persons injecting drugs on public streets and for the homeless to be “off the streets, like they should’ve never been in the subways.” Budnella called the comments “inflammatory” and “reminiscent of the … rhetoric that Nixon and the Reagan administration, as well as many afterward, used to address substance use,” which she claimed led to mass incarceration and the opioid crisis. 5

The organization has also called for increased funding for drug rehabilitation programs and needle exchange programs, pointing to increases in overdose deaths during the pandemic. The state budget cut funding for drug treatment services by 20 percent in FY2021 and retained a requirement that doctors receive “prior authorization” before prescribing certain medicines used to treat opioid addiction. 6 Budnella said that the prior authorization requirement is “both deadly and bogs down providers when they could be serving more people.” 7

VOCAL-NY has organized protests in Albany and New York City, advocating for a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and for other renters’ protections, such as “good cause” eviction laws. 8 Cuomo extended the moratorium on evictions in the state through January 2021, but VOCAL-NY advocated for additional protections, saying that the moratorium did not go far enough to protect renters from “frivolous” lawsuits by landlords seeking to harass tenants into moving. 9


  1. Spezzamonte, Irene. “‘The beginning of a movement’ — Staten Island women march to demand justice for Breonna Taylor.” Staten Island Live. October 19, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  2. Chakraborty, Barnini. “NYC protesters spend 2nd night camped out in front of City Hall, demand $1B cut to police budget.” FOX News. June 25, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  3. “Was the NYPD Budget Cut by $1 Billion?” CBCNY. August 13, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  4. Goldenberg, Sally. “Following budget fight, Johnson cuts funds for advocacy organization.” Politico. July 28, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  5. Pereira, Sydney and Quari Alleyne. “Cuomo Calls For Arrests Of Public Drug Users, Alarming Harm Reduction Advocates.” Gothamist. Sept. 30, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  6. McKay, Morgan. “Advocates Say More Funding Is Needed For Treatment Services.” Buffalo Spectrum. October 20, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  7. Cappabianca, Corina. “Advocates call for more help to prevent overdose deaths.” Albany News 10. October 20, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  8. Sheridan, Johan. “Activists to rally at City Hall, supporting housing policy updates.” Albany News 10. Sept. 15, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  9. Hallum, Mark. “Eviction ban in New York to be extended for rest of 2020, but rent crisis still unresolved.” AM New York. Sept. 28, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2002

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,232,998 $2,062,201 $1,282,312 $55,526 N $2,113,811 $74,478 $3,911 $129,570
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,655,292 $1,579,670 $1,108,021 $52,032 N $1,557,487 $21,950 $4,195 $127,924
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,415,963 $1,213,335 $1,044,831 $64,464 N $1,317,357 $26,368 $0 $59,340 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,052,339 $1,048,158 $815,960 $38,221 N $956,931 $54,186 $0 $54,350 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,157,808 $946,789 $804,148 $30,590 N $1,147,989 $9,565 $254 $44,153 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $918,232 $779,928 $580,302 $17,763 N $917,717 $0 $515 $42,984 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $738,957 $606,894 $430,079 $5,844 N $734,720 $0 $412 $42,984 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)


    80A Fourth Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11217-1908