For Immediate Release
November 22, 2013
Contact: Jeremy Saunders, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-676-8041
New York, NY – After a five year fight, Mayor Bloomberg has restored $5.1 million for life-saving supportive housing programs serving 4,500 formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The restoration was released today in the Mayor’s final budget modification.
“This is great news for our community who is now galvanized around ending the AIDS epidemic in NYC,” said Jason Walker, HIV/AIDS Organizer for VOCAL-NY. “We can now focus on proactive public policy initiatives instead of cleaning up the remnants of Bloomberg-era austerity measures.”
In FY2010, Mayor Bloomberg first targeted the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) for a $1.876 million cut to its contracted supportive housing programs. This then grew to a $5.1 million annual cut in subsequent years. Supportive housing programs service homeless people living with HIV/AIDS who have co-occurring mental health and/or substance use issues. The budget cut affected onsite case management and basic operations in supportive housing units, despite the evidence that supportive housing reduces avoidable healthcare, emergency shelter and other public costs.
The City Council has made annual restorations to the budget for these programs, thanks to the leadership of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, General Welfare Chair Annabel Palma, and former-chair Bill de Blasio. The City Council used their discretionary funding to restore cuts for this, as well as other vital programs Mayor Bloomberg put on the chopping block.
Annual rallies, lobby days and protests demanded the money be fully restored and denounced the Mayor for cutting vital services to some of New Yorker’s neediest.
“Homelessness is deadly for people living with HIV/AIDS, but Bloomberg’s public health priorities don’t seem to extend beyond his big soda ban lately,” said Wayne Starks, a VOCAL-NY Board member and formerly homeless HASA client living in supportive housing during a 2012 budget battle. “This administration has repeatedly slashed funding for housing programs that keep people with HIV/AIDS healthy, while introducing policies like drug testing that are simply an excuse to deny medically appropriate shelter.”
In the Mayor’s announcement he noted “Today – for the first time in the City’s history – the budget for an upcoming fiscal year already has been balanced for an incoming mayor, before he steps into office,” a welcome sign for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, as well as to the HIV/AIDS community eager to reverse the budget and policy trends of 12-years of Mayor Bloomberg, and begin enacting public policy to combat, if not end the AIDS epidemic in New York.
We are happy to share this victory with our allies at Housing Works, The Momentum Project, Supportive Housing Network of NY (SHNNY) and others, who have fought alongside us each year to restore these cuts.