Statement By Austin Shafran, Spokesman for the Senate Majority Conference on the Governor's Veto of the HIV Rent Cap
Vetoing a bill that protects life-saving access to affordable housing for 30,000 of our most vulnerable citizens is morally reprehensible and fiscally irresponsible. The bill, which protects renters living with HIV/AIDS by limiting the percentage of household income payable to shelter costs to 30 percent, would pay for itself by reducing evictions, homelessness, and health costs.
Some things shouldn't have a price tag. Denying those suffering from HIV/AIDS rental assistance will force those affected out of their homes and into our City’s shelters and hospitals costing taxpayers millions.
The Democratic Majority calls on the Republican Minority – who voted unanimously for this measure – to join us in overriding this irresponsible error in judgment.
During the 2009-10 legislative session, the Senate twice passed the HIV Rent Cap, sponsored by Senator Tom Duane, once unanimously and once by a vote of 52-1.
The benefit applies to those who live in emergency shelter facilities or reside in housing which receives financial assistance.
Currently, the rental assistance program administered by New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) is the only program which does not cap the tenant’s rent share at 30-percent of income. Thus, HASA clients who receive shelter assistance and have other forms of income (such as SSI, SSDI, veteran’s benefits or work) pay all but $344 for basic housing – leaving them just $11 per day to purchase nutritious food, pay utilities, or access basic hygiene needs such as toothpaste.
Because of the state of the economy forcing formerly stabilized tenants into eviction, placements for low-income people with AIDS in emergency shelters are up 26-percent since May 2007.