Housing Works: Despite Albany Chaos, AIDS Agenda Goes On

Thomas K. Duane

March 03, 2010

By Diana Scholl

Despite the latest Albany drama, and Governor Paterson in limbo, there are still important AIDS-related bills that need to pass— including 30 percent rent cap legislation and the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act. Both have been held up in the Senate.

At Albany AIDS Awareness Day last Tuesday, some 200 people with AIDS from Syracuse to Buffalo to the Bronx lobbied for these bills and other issues that impact people living with HIV/AIDS. The event was organized by the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC).

Rumors circulated that the 30 percent rent cap bill might pass through the Senate that Tuesday night, but instead the Senate passed a resolution declaring a Dominican week in New York,and went home. The legislation, which would cap the rent of people with HIV/AIDS in subsidized housing at 30 percent of their incomes, passed in the Assembly this session and needs to pass in the Senate. It passed last session, after an impassioned speech by Sen. Tom Duane.

“It should pass pretty soon,” said Mark Furnish, Duane’s legislative counsel. It passed largely last year, and will pass this year, because it’s the right thing to do.”

The 30 percent rent cap bill would address a cruel disparity, so New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS no longer have to pay more than 30 percent of their public benefits (such as Veterans’ or disability benefits) toward their rent. Because of this policy, many people are living on as little as $12 a day. Analysis shows that this legislation would actually save the City and State money, by limiting money spent in rent arrears.

With Albany in flux—and the Democrats down a member with Monseratte expelled—the Senate leadership is dotting its I’s and crossing its T’s before bringing legislation to the floor

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