In March, the Bloomberg Administration stopped paying brokers' fees for HASA clients to obtain housing. The result? Harlem United has paid out over $27,000 in broker's fees to get its clients into permanent housing -- a burden the organization says it cannot sustain.
"Right now the brokers are getting 100 percent," said Kimberleigh Smith, Senior Director for State and Local Policy at Harlem United. "The clients right now are protected, but the agency is feeling it now, but I don't know how long we can do it."
Harlem United has paid 100 percent of the brokers' fees on 41 apartments at a total cost of $27,623. According to Smith, Harlem United has had to take that money from their transitional housing budget.
But it's not just brokers' fees the organization is paying out. Bloomberg also stopped giving checks for security deposits and switched to vouchers, which are only redeemable after an apartment is need of repairs -- so Harlem United has stepped in and is waiting to be reimbursed for 10 units for which they fronted money to secure the apartments. In October we reported that Harlem United noticed that many brokers simply stopped working to help HASA clients obtain housing -- in a city where getting an apartment with out a broker is extremely difficult.
"We're two days from World AIDS Day and the Mayor's going to be grand-standing about how much he cares about people with AIDS," said Kristin Goodwin. "We hope that people join us on World AIDS Day to send a message to Bloomberg that these cutting programs for poor people matters more your record on AIDS than your bagels and coffee event at Gracie Mansion."
Some brokers are reluctant to work with HASA clients. Housing Works sued four real estate companies and a landlord this year for discriminating against a prospective renter with HIV/AIDS -- a disabled man who has a monthly housing subsidy from New York City's HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to pay his rent. Such discrimination is illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act and New York City's Human Rights Law.