Senate Bill Protects Renters Living With AIDS Or HIV

April 28, 2010

The New York State Senate Democratic Majority passed overdue protections (S2664/Duane) for New York renters living in poverty with AIDS or HIV, by humanely limiting the percentage of household income which can be paid in shelter costs. 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 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 – just $11 per day – leaving them unable 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.
Senator Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Senate Health Committee and lead sponsor of this legislation said, “This long-overdue legislation will not only improve the health and well-being of some our most vulnerable New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, but it will also save money by keeping people in their homes and out of our City’s shelters and hospitals. Moreover, it will bring HASA into line with every other rental assistance program in New York State.”
Majority Conference Leader John Sampson said, “Whether it's affordable housing or social services for the sick and poverty stricken, government exists to protect the public, especially the most vulnerable among us. This legislation provides much needed, and potentially life-saving assistance to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. I commend Senator Duane for his leadership and tireless advocacy on this issue.”
The Senate’s legislation will help protect nearly 31,000 of these New Yorkers from eviction, reducing the financial burden on the state for the eviction and emergency placement process, as well as allowing for steady and stable medical treatment, also alleviating costs associated with emergency care for individuals without adequate coverage.
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35th District) said, “With the passage of this legislation we are able to help our most vulnerable, struggling individuals by affording them the ability to have access to livable, stable and affordable housing. Too often, the burden of the cost of  healthcare is overlooked when considering what is appropriate housing assistance. This will no longer be the case as New Yorkers who are living with HIV/AIDS will finally have access to the assistance that has been denied for far too long.”
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) said, "Across the City of New York, thousands of residents who were struggling to make ends meet before the economy collapsed are facing homelessness and choosing between medicine or a roof over their heads. It is both a moral responsibility and an economically wise choice to help low-income New Yorkers living with AIDS or HIV remain in their homes, able to afford basic necessities, and stay out of emergency shelters or worse, emergency rooms."
Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany) said, “Many New Yorkers living with HIV or AIDS live well below the poverty level due to compounding factors, such as expensive medical costs and limited income due to their reduced ability to retain employment as a result of their illness. I commend Senator Duane for his passionate commitment to ensure that people living with HIV or AIDS have the ability to maintain proper housing.”
Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) said, “This is about basic humanity. We in public office have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, particularly given the impact of the current economy.  This bill fights for those New Yorkers who often have the lowest incomes yet the highest costs to simply maintain their health.”