PR: Assembly Budget Would Prevent Homelessness for Thousands Of New Yorkers Living With AIDS

PRESS RELEASE | 3/11/14 

Assembly Budget Would Prevent Homelessness for Thousands Of New Yorkers Living With AIDS By Closing Loophole in HIV/AIDS Rental Assistance Program 

Advocates Urge Senate to Join Assembly in Supporting Governor Cuomo’s “30 Percent Rent Cap” Proposal; Budget Plan Similar to Affordable Housing Bill That Passed Senate Twice Before 

The Assembly one-house budget bill (A08556C) includes a “30 percent rent cap” affordable housing protection that will help prevent homelessness among New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who receive rental assistance. The proposal would close a loophole in an existing rental assistance program that has pushed over 10,000 low-income people living with HIV/AIDS to the brink of homelessness and cost New York taxpayers millions in unnecessary shelter placements.

The language would align New York’s rental assistance program for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS with other similar programs in the state by capping the tenant’s rent contribution at 30 percent of their income.

“It’s hard to focus on your health or take your medication regularly if you’re worried about keeping a roof over your head,” said Wanda Hernandez, VOCAL-NY’s Board Chair who pays over 70 percent of her disability income and has been threatened with eviction for over a year. “We’re grateful that the Assembly recognizes that housing is healthcare for people living with AIDS and agrees with Governor Cuomo that it’s time to fix the rental assistance program so that it does the job of keeping people in their homes and out of shelters and emergency rooms.”

On Friday, seventy-four housing and healthcare organizations sent Speaker Silver, Senate Republican Leader Skelos and Senate IDC Leader Klein a letter urging them to support the affordable housing proposal, which Governor Cuomo included in his executive budget 30-day amendments.

“Senators Skelos and Klein have supported this proposal in the past because they know it will pay for itself by keeping people living with AIDS out of costly shelters and emergency rooms,” said Jim Lister, a VOCAL-NY leader who also pays over 70 percent of his disability income towards rent each month. “The balancing act of choosing which essential needs to skip in order to pay the rent can only go on so long before we end up homeless or worse.”

Both the Assembly and Senate have passed legislation (S.3022/A.7782) that is similar to the governor’s budget proposal, and the Senate has passed the bill twice with strong bipartisan support. Governor Paterson vetoed it in 2010 under pressure from Mayor Bloomberg.

Contact: Sean Barry, 646.373.3344

 

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