A coalition of more than 100 LGBT celebrities, labor leaders, elected officials, activists, media personalities, artists, and allies is launching a campaign, led by VOCAL-NY, to get Governor Cuomo to use this year’s state budget to close a loophole that denies affordable housing to homeless and low-income people with HIV/AIDS.
In an open letter (also embedded below) on January 15th, the coalition praises Cuomo for his leadership on LGBT equality, healthcare and affordable housing, and respectfully asks him to include in this year’s state budget a cost-neutral policy that would prevent homelessness for over ten thousand New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and enable hundreds more to move out of the shelter system.
The cost-neutral proposal, described in detail in the letter, would cap the rent contribution of low-income people living with HIV/AIDS who receive rental assistance at 30 percent of their disability income, which is already the standard in every other low-income housing program in New York. Currently, an anachronistic provision in state law requires low-income people living with HIV/AIDS who receive rental assistance to pay upwards of 70 percent or more of their disability income towards rent so that they are left with about $12 per day for all other expenses.
The coalition is optimistic that Governor Cuomo is open to supporting the proposal. A similar legislative proposal passed the Assembly and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2010, but Governor Paterson vetoed it after aggressive opposition by Mayor Bloomberg.
The proposed affordable housing protection is expected to pay for itself by preventing avoidable costs associated with housing loss and homelessness, including expensive shelter placements. According to data from the NYC HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), the number of homeless people living with HIV/AIDS in for-profit shelters in New York City is the highest it’s been in eight years.
A coalition of LGBT, healthcare and affordable housing groups sent a similar letter to Governor Cuomo on January 6th also urging him to use his executive budget to close the affordable housing loophole and prevent homelessness for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Last year, VOCAL-NY’s report More Than A Home: How Affordable Housing for New Yorkers Living With HIV/AIDS Will Prevent Homelessness drew attention to the ongoing homelessness crisis.