Good News for Affordable AIDS Supportive Housing in New York and Across the Nation

June 27, 2012

Good News for Affordable AIDS Supportive Housing in New York and Across the Nation

This week the U.S. House voted for a $2 million increase in proposed HOPWA funding and the New York City Council agreed to restore past funding levels for AIDS supportive housing and HASA's food and nutrition contract, which had been slashed in the Bloomberg Administration's proposed FY13 budget. The City Council's decision comes after months of protests and advocacy efforts by Housing Works to counter Bloomberg's four year attack on funding for vital services for New Yorkers living with HIV.

"Once again, we would like to thank the City Council for standing firmly in support of AIDS supportive housing, and for the needs of low-income New Yorkers living with AIDS," said Kristin Goodwin, Director of NYC Policy and Organizing at Housing Works about the decision to use discretionary funds to provide $5.1 million to supportive housing and $1 million to the food and nutrition contract. "Speaker Quinn, and the General Welfare Committee, under the leadership of Council Member Annabel Palma, should be recognized for continuing to prioritize people with AIDS in their budget advocacy."

While this is good news indeed, the Council did not restore funding to a HASA program that fully covered clients' hefty NYC apartment brokers' fees. HASA promised to monitor the impact of this change on their clients, but as Housing Works reported earlier this year, paying a broker's fee often proves an insurmountable barrier for clients, and some have been forced to sell their meds, borrow from loan sharks or turn to sex work to cover the cost and secure and stable housing on the private market. Re-upping HASA's payment from half the fee to all of it seems the only sound strategy.

HASA has also recently released new policies that force clients to comply with substance use referrals if they want to keep their housing benefits and require that their partners, spouses or other dependents join a welfare to work program. HASA devised these harmful programs without consulting the community or even the HASA Advisory Board or the City Council, and has not clarified the system for implementing them. Says Goodwin, "This is our next fight with HRA, and we hope our City Council allies will continue to fight with us."

Last night's House vote returns federal funding for Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program to its FY12 budget of $332, a real victory amidst the House's current budgetary slashing environment. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who introduced the amendment, says, "By restoring just $2 million to the HOPWA program, we can help provide stable, affordable housing for approximately 340 households grappling with HIV/AIDS." The proposal will go before the Senate soon, when The National AIDS Housing Coalition says, "We will need to call on your help again." Mark your calendar.

This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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