Gotham Gazette Story on HIV/AIDS Housing Challenges Features VOCAL

(VOCAL-NY Board member and leader Wanda Hernandez was profiled in a recent article on housing challenges facing New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.)

Gaps in Housing Program Leave Tough Choices for People with HIV

Zach Bergson for Gotham Gazette | August 15, 2011 11:11 AM

“I’m paying over 71 percent of my check toward rent. A lot of times I struggle to make it to a medical appointment because I don’t have transportation money,” said 48-year-old Wanda Hernandez, who is HIV positive. Hernandez is one of thousands of low income HIV positive people who receive some form of rental assistance from the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration.The amount of rental assistance that a HASA client may receive varies depending on income. Hernandez, who makes a modest living working for a large corporation in the city, receives a small housing stipend and must pay most of her rent herself. This leaves her with little money to pay for basic things like electricity, a cell phone and transportation.

Some people receiving housing aid are guaranteed that their rent will total no more than 30 percent of their income from disability payments, with the government making up the rest, Hernandez and many other disabled people with HIV do not qualify for that.

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