PR: AIDS Advocates Praise de Blasio Appointees for Human Resources Administration and Immigrant Affairs

PRESS RELEASE | 2/28/14

AIDS Advocates Praise de Blasio Appointees for Human Resources Administration (HRA) and Immigrant Affairs  
Incoming HRA Commissioner Steven Banks Will Help Serve As Conscience Of Administration In Fighting Poverty; Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal Brings Track Record Addressing Health Disparities
VOCAL-NY Urges Incoming HRA Commissioner Banks to Quickly Implement de Blasio Plan to Prevent Homelessness for People Living With AIDS Through “30% Rent Cap” Affordable Housing Protection

Wanda Hernandez, VOCAL-NY’s Board of Directors Chairperson, a HRA client and a member of the City’s HASA Advisory Board, issued the following statement on Steven Banks’ appointment:

“Steven Banks will help serve as the conscience of this administration when it comes to ensuring low-income New Yorkers, including those living with HIV/AIDS and those who are LGBT, are treated with dignity and respect. Under Bloomberg, I was repeatedly left to fend for myself when it came to navigating the city’s bureaucracy, pushed to the brink of homelessness countless times, and made to feel like being poor and HIV-positive was something I brought on myself. But this administration seems to understand both the problems with the HIV/AIDS Services Administration and its promise, which can serve as a foundation finally ending the AIDS epidemic in New York. Because of Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, I can now keep my home and the number of homeless people living with HIV/AIDS in the city should finally begin to go down. And with Steven Banks at the helm of HRA, I hope that the agency will now turn away from punitive policies that often make life worse for poor people towards repairing New York City’s safety net and closing the divide between the tale of two cities. The first step should be quickly implementing the 30 percent rent cap affordable housing protection for the more than 10,000 HASA clients who are at-risk of becoming homeless.”

A division of HRA, the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) provides housing, nutrition, and other essential services to over 43,000 low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and their family members.  Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget includes $4.3 million in FY14 and $17.4 million in FY15 to close a loophole in HASA’s rental assistance program that has forced thousands of clients into homelessness by requiring them to spend upwards of 70 percent or more of their disability income towards rent, whereas all other low-income programs provide a 30 percent rent cap based on income. The new funding will be used to implement an affordable housing protection in HASA’s rental assistance program.

Alyssa Aguilera, VOCAL-NY’s Political Director, issued the following statement on Nisha Agarwal’s appointment:

“Nisha Agarwal is an energetic progressive with a strong record of advocacy for immigrant communities, including tackling health disparities. Her appointment is good news for immigrants living with HIV/AIDS, who comprise a growing number of new diagnoses. In fact, the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS who are foreign-born has nearly doubled during the past decade to 30 percent of all new cases. Throughout her career, Commissioner Agarwal has pushed both health care providers and government agencies to make their services culturally competent and linguistically accessible – both of which are necessary to end the AIDS epidemic in every corner of our city.”

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Contact: Sean Barry, 646.373.3344

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