Local and Community News
New York City Audit: AIDS Agency Fails
July 3, 2003
New York City Comptroller William Thompson released an audit Wednesday that found the city is failing to meet its obligation to provide housing for thousands of homeless people who have HIV/AIDS. According to the report, case managers often do not track the progress of applications for housing, leaving sick people stranded in homeless shelters for months.Adapted from:
Thompson's review of the city's HIV/AIDS Services Administration found that case managers followed up on only 10 of 142 housing applications filed by 104 clients from July 2001 to August 2002. A review of the housing unit database found that only 26 of 119 referrals ended in placements. "I am troubled by a number of weaknesses that make it difficult for HASA to find permanent housing for people with HIV and AIDS," Thompson said. "People are looking to the city for help and instead are facing delays and roadblocks. This needs to stop."
The audit described an agency in disarray, with case managers and supervisors confused as to their duties. When a housing vacancy becomes available, case managers are responsible for scheduling an interview - but Thompson found that, in most instances, the housing provider arranged the interview. Even when a housing referral was made, the comptroller's report found, it was unlikely to result in permanent housing for a person with HIV/AIDS. The rest were returned to case managers for such reasons as refusing an apartment or not having any interview scheduled.
Armen Merjian, senior staff attorney with the nonprofit advocacy group Housing Works, said the comptroller's report confirms suspicions by advocates that the city was not meeting the needs of homeless people with HIV/AIDS.
In response to the audit, the city's Human Resources Administration, which oversees the agency, said it concurs with the negative findings. Since the audit was completed, the agency said, it has changed procedures and overhauled its referral process to improve the system.
Newsday (New York)
07.03.03; Margaret Ramirez