New York: Debacle Threatens AIDS Housing
October 16, 2006
Elected officials and advocates gathered in New York City Oct. 10 to protest a provision of state law that will adjust the way rent is calculated for HIV/AIDS patients in government-subsidized housing. Their monthly payment will no longer be limited to 30 percent of their income but could exceed 50 percent. Such an adjustment will limit the amount some residents can retain for other expenses -- such as food, transportation, and clothing -- to $330 per month.
The new policy goes into effect Nov. 1, giving residents short notice of the change. Advocates noted that many of the 2,200 residents affected by the policy could face homelessness after a respite of stable housing.
Advocates are scrambling to form a united front against the policy, which came from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Although state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Chelsea), the legislature's only openly HIV-positive member, absolved the city's HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) of any blame, some disagree. According to Michael Hayes of OTDA and Barbara Brancaccio of the city's Human Resources Administration, the state completed an audit of the HRA program in 2004 and found it ran afoul of state law governing an array of housing initiatives. HRA is HASA's parent agency.
Advocates pointed to federal programs under which rent is capped at 30 percent of income, and wondered whether the new policy is legal under federal housing guidelines. David Vos of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed that state and local governments using funds under the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program have to limit rents to 30 percent. However, he said according to his information, the units in question are not funded by HOPWA. Neither Hayes nor Brancaccio could say whether federal funds were involved in housing the 2,200 New York City residents at risk.
Gay City News (New York City)
10.12.2006; Paul Schindler