Bloomberg’s Budget Would Increase Homelessness and Block Access to Housing, Food Stamps & Medicaid for People With HIV/AIDS
Mayor Bloomberg’s preliminary FY12 budget proposal fails to restore funding for housing, healthcare and nutrition services for homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. The City Council approved one-time funding last year for critical programs within the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), a division of HRA, that the Mayor did not restore in his preliminary FY12 budget.
“The mayor is playing chicken with the City Council and Albany over some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers when it comes to his proposed cuts for HIV/AIDS services,” said Wayne Starks, a VOCAL leader and Board member living in supportive housing. “Denying people living with HIV/AIDS housing and other services that keep them healthy will cost more in the long-term because they’ll be more likely to end up in the shelters, emergency rooms or hospital beds. And cutting funding for supportive housing case management is pulling the rug out from under people who are trying to deal with drug use and mental health issues.”
City Council stepped up to provide one-year funding for two essential programs servinglow-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS in the FY11 budget, both of which Mayor Bloomberg declined to continue in his preliminary FY12 budget proposal. The first proposed cut would eliminate $1,476,000 for supportive housing programs that serve formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS who have substance use and mental health issues. Mayor Bloomberg already cut $400,000 from the program in FY11.
The second proposed cut would illegally eliminate one-third of HASA caseworkers thatprovide access to housing assistance, food stamps and Medicaid, a clear violation ofLocal Law 49 of 1997 that mandates caseworker ratios for HASA clients. The cost of this “gap closing measure” will at least double from $4,193,000 to $8,4800,000 in FY12.The cost of this PEG doubled Both programs are matched 50/50 with state funding.
“Mayor Bloomberg should not be above the law when it comes to ensuring access to basic services for low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS,” said Wanda Hernandez, a VOCAL leader and Board member enrolled in HASA. “Reducing thenumber of HASA caseworkers is not only illegal, but it would make the quality ofservices go from bad to worse. HASA already doesnʼt do a great job meeting the needsof clients.”
The mayorʼs proposed cuts follow years of attempts to reduce funding for HIV/AIDS services and block reforms. Mayor Bloomberg completely eliminated a $4 millionprogram that helped homeless people living with HIV/AIDS find permanent housing in2009. Last year, Mayor Bloombergʼs opposition led Governor Paterson to veto thebipartisan 30 percent rent cap bill to prevent homelessness for 10,000 low-income NewYorkers living with HIV/AIDS who pay half or more of their disability income towards rent. The bill was projected to result in direct cost savings by reducing emergency shelter placements and rental arrears. City Council will hold hearings on the Mayorʼs preliminary budget in March and theMayor will submit his final executive budget proposal in April or May.
BACKGROUND: HIV/AIDS IN NEW YORK CITY
• About 45,000 low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and their familiesrely on HASA for housing, food stamps, Medicaid and other supports.
• The HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing. The number of New York City residentsdiagnosed with HIV/AIDS grew by 21% during Mayor Bloombergʼs first two termsduring 2001 and 2009, according to data from the NYC Department of Health &Mental Hygiene. More than 107,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV/AIDS.
• HIV/AIDS is driven by social and economic inequalities. Black and Latino NewYorkers are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, along with gay men of allraces. Nearly nine out of ten of HASA clients are Black or Latino.
• Poverty and homelessness are major drivers of the epidemic. Research hasfound that homeless people living with HIV/AIDS have much higher mortalityrates, weaker immune systems and higher risk behaviors compared with thosewho have stable and affordable housing. A 2010 study by the Centers forDisease Control & Prevention (CDC) identified poverty as the biggest factor inHIV transmission among heterosexuals in urban areas.