PRESS RELEASE | 3/31/14
Over 10,000 New Yorkers who have been disabled by HIV/AIDS will be covered under an affordable housing provision in the FY15 state budget expected to be approved later today. The new policy will also enable hundreds more to move out of the shelter system.
“Mayor de Blasio is already delivering real results for those left behind by the Bloomberg era,” said James W. Lister, a VOCAL-NY leader living with HIV/AIDS who pays 72 percent of his disability income towards rent. “I take 32 pills every day and have two and a half shelves full of medications in my kitchen. I don’t know how I would manage all of that and my other health needs if I was in a shelter, but that’s where I would end up if not for this affordable housing protection.”
The budget will close a loophole in New York City’s rental assistance program for low-income people with HIV/AIDS that has been plagued by high rates of arrears and housing loss. Like other housing assistance programs, tenants in the HIV/AIDS rental assistance program are required to pay a portion of their rent if they receive outside income. Unlike other housing programs, however, tenants in the HIV/AIDS rental assistance program are required to spend upwards of 70 percent or more of their disability income towards rent. The standard policy in all other low-income housing programs is for tenants to pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards rent, which will now be the policy in the HIV/AIDS rental assistance program going forward.
Homelessness among people living with HIV/AIDS has skyrocketed during the past year, with occupancy in commercial SROs (used as emergency housing by the NYC HIV/AIDS Services Administration) climbing nearly 25 percent since January 2013. This mirrors the broader pattern of rising homelessness under the Bloomberg administration.
“This is a big down-payment on Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to create affordable housing and reverse the record homelessness left behind by Michael Bloomberg,” said Wanda Hernandez, VOCAL-NY’s Board Chair who pays 73 percent of her SSDI income towards rent. “I’ve been in and out of housing court for the past year trying to hang onto my home and stay out of the shelter. The affordable housing protection for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in the budget is a lifeline for me and thousands of others in my situation.”
New York City will pay approximately two-thirds of the cost of the “30% rent cap” affordable housing protection and the State will pay the remaining one-third, although the policy is expected to eventually pay for itself by reducing costly emergency housing placements and improving health outcomes.
There has long been bipartisan support for this policy in the legislature, but a legislative proposal was repeatedly stymied by opposition from the former mayor. Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez sponsored the latest version of that rent cap bill (S.3022/A.7782).
Contact: Sean Barry, 646.373.3344