Florida: Housing Worries Hit Some With HIV
September 28, 2006
Palm Beach City officials say most landlords of 60 former Hope House clients are allowing the tenants to stay. In August, the city cut federal grant funding to the rent and utility assistance organization for HIV/AIDS patients. City officials say all former Hope House clients now have case managers with the nonprofit Comprehensive AIDS Program. However, one property manager of a suburban West Palm Beach apartment complex wants former Hope House clients to move out.
"Everybody is worried," said one former Hope House client. All tenants asked to remain anonymous, fearing discrimination. Residents have received electric bills -- which used to be paid in Hope House's name -- ranging from $648 to $1,119, labeled "pay immediately." The city said it would investigate tenants' claims about a family that has been without power for five days.
If former clients notify the city, it will pay their bills, said Paula Ryan, the city's economic and community development director. She said Hope House had not been paying the bills, resulting in the current high balances due. "The full amount has to be paid, so it's being paid," she said. The city stopped disbursing funds to Hope House when city staff reported not receiving proper financial records from the agency; questions of over-billing for rent also arose.
Electric bills began running high once the city told Hope House clients to stop paying the agency their portion of rent, leaving the organization unable to cover utilities, said Hope House Director Angela Rose. She said the city should stop trying to blame its own lack of oversight on Hope House.
Some former clients report great difficulty in securing other housing. One woman said she had contacted 200 landlords but almost none would accept her rent voucher.
Palm Beach Post
09.27.2006; Thomas R. Collins
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.