We applaud Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to help New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. It will save money and will save lives.
I remember a few years back I had a friend that lived in supportive housing where his rent was capped at 30 percent. He wanted to move on and won a lottery for a affordable housing apartment in Manhattan. The building was beautiful, affordable housing was mixed in with the rich apartment renters. The only problem was my friend had limited disability checks coming in every month, his rent went from around two hundred a month to about five hundred a month, leaving him with nothing to buy food with. He lasted only two months and finally he had to decide, pay the rent and don't eat or become homeless and have food. He chose being homeless. And he ended up in the hospital endless times due to being homeless, which in the long run cost the city and state more money than if he had a apartment in the first place.
Lucky after a few months, he was able to get another supportive apartment with low rent, but he did not need supportive housing, and by him taking another apartment meant that someone with HIV/AIDS that did need the services, did not have a place to go. This is the major problem with supportive housing. Even if the person with HIV/AIDS does not need caretakers and supportive housing, they are forced to stay there, because that is all they can afford. So they stay there for years, taking up a apartment that could be used for someone that really needs the services. Supportive housing also is for people with mental Disabilities, War Veterans and other health problems as well as other issues. So this bill will allow people that do not need these services to move on. It will open up housing for people that really need it.
Perhaps one more thing can be accomplished next. Currently the state and city will pay twenty dollars per month towards the electric bills of people with HIV/AIDS. This is just not enough. I can not tell you how many people I know with HIV/AIDS who are always on a final disconnect for their electric bill. Their bills range from a hundred a month in winter to over two hundred in the summer when electricity demand is high and so are the prices. Either the city or state or both should raise the help they can give with these bills. Better yet, Con Edison of New York City should give a deep discount towards people with HIV/AIDS as well as people with other disabilities. Considering how much CON ED makes a month in profit, maybe a bill is needed in Albany, that would require this utility to give people on limited income electricity and gas at cost. It is only right considering how much money Con Ed rakes in every month.
On another note, Dr. Frank R. Lipton from The Human Resources Administration (HRA), who has been called the quintessential unsung hero in media outlets, should be named the new Commissioner of The HRA. Under Dr. Lipton's direction, almost 15,000 supportive housing apartments have been created. Considered widely successful, Dr. Lipton has put New York City on the right track to end homelessness.
But Their Are Problems With HIV/AIDS Programs
There are some problems though. Currently a provider of Scatter Site and Supportive housing can do what they want. If a tenant has a complaint about services received by a provider, there is no outlet for the tenant to complain and take action against the provider. It is the provider that has the power to take the tenant on, but the tenant has no recourse to say to the HRA, "Hey, I am not receiving services". Currently apartment providers for the HRA can call level one, two and three meetings against the tenant and the next step is eviction. But if the provider is not living up to the contract for which they are being paid, no action can be taken against the landlord provider. This has to change, as providers are taking advantage of this loophole and people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS, Mental or other, have no recourse. They can be abused by the provider, which happens more often than anyone can imagine. I have heard more horror stories on this issue and recently I wrote Dr. Lipton asking him to put safeguards in place, so the City's HRA HASA program for people with HIV/AIDS, can take action against a provider who is being paid for services and not rendering them.
Another example of the abuses of providers. People with HIV/AIDS are told they will have Case Management. Yet none of the providers can tell you what that is. They demand that the person living with HIV/AIDS meet with them every week or every other week, yet provide no services. The caseworker will sit there and ask the client, what have you done, yet they never have any answers to what they have done to make the person living with HIV/AIDS live a easier life.
One recent example is St. Nicks Alliance of Brooklyn. I spoke to a caseworker who was recently fired because she wanted to help people with HIV/AIDS. She was told she did not manage her time well. But the reason she was not managing her time well, was she really was trying to help her clients. Helping takes time.
When I put the question to St Nicks Alliance about their Scatter Site program, they denied they had anything to do with their founding fathers, St. Nicks Alliance The Landlord. They said they were a separate entity, and the Landlord had nothing to do with the Scatter Site program. I could have believed this, since I live in one of St. Nicks buildings in Williamsburg. But when this case worker lost her job, she was called down to Frank Lang's office.When doing a search on Frank Lang, this is what several websites say.
Frank Lang is the Director of Housing for the St. Nicks Alliance since 2006 overseeing all of St. Nicks’ housing programs including real estate development, tenant assistance and property management. St. Nicks, founded in 1975, is one of the premiere community development companies in NYC.
St. Nicks Alliance Scatter Site programs separate from St. Nicks Alliance the landlord? I THINK NOT!
When I e-mailed the fired caseworker on what St. Nicks Alliance Scatter Site Case Management meant, this was her reply.
"Case management is an intangible construct. I don't know how they measure their results of case management. They are unbelievably infatuated with getting program fees. But you are right, they are not exactly managing anything."
Now for anyone who wonders what program fees are, they are the rent paid by the tenant and the monies paid to the program by the City, State and the HRA.