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Author Topic: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase  (Read 4234 times)

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Offline alisenjafi

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  • They say HIV comes from monkeys!
Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« on: October 07, 2006, 10:30:21 AM »
Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase


By SEWELL CHAN
Published: October 5, 2006
In a move that has alarmed local officials and advocates for people with AIDS, the state ordered New York City’s welfare agency to sharply increase the rent contribution it requires from about 2,200 poor adults who live in government-subsidized buildings and have H.I.V. or AIDS.

The change, which city officials disclosed yesterday at a meeting with advocacy groups, means that most of the people in the program will be paying more than half their income — which comes entirely from federal assistance — toward rent.

“I am very concerned,” said Verna Eggleston, the commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, who recalled how hard it was to find housing for poor people with AIDS in the early years of the epidemic, in the 1980’s.

The roughly 2,200 people who will be affected by the increase make up about one-third of those who receive housing services through the H.I.V./AIDS Services Administration, part of Ms. Eggleston’s agency.

Nearly all of the 2,200 adults receive either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, federal programs that help disabled people. Most of them used to be homeless and now live in buildings that offer medical services.

Until now, the adults have been paying 30 percent of their income in rent. The state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has directed the city to change that formula. Now, the adults will be allowed to keep only $330 of their monthly income for food and other personal items, with the rest going for rent.

In an example provided by the city, a participant in the program who gets $690 a month in Supplemental Security Income will now have to pay $360 (the income minus the $330) in rent, compared with $207 under the current formula.

The adults in the program will get a 10-day notice before the changes are put in effect by Nov. 1.

A March 2004 audit by the state office found that the H.I.V./AIDS agency was paying too much rent and not making the people in the program contribute enough. The state started to withhold the reimbursements it usually gives the city to make up for its rent subsidies because the state said that the city needed to charge more. Since the audit, the withheld rent subsidies have accumulated to more than $150 million; to get that money released, the city agency had to agree to the policy change.

Terri E. Smith-Caronia, a policy official at Housing Works, which helps people with AIDS find housing, health care and other services, said, “At a time when federal AIDS money is decreasing, this policy change is like a double whammy.”

Patrick J. McGovern, executive director of the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, said of the change: “It assumes that ill and disabled people should be spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing. They will have to concentrate more on their daily survival needs than on getting and staying well.”
"You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does"
The Smiths

Offline Iggy

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Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2006, 10:36:21 AM »
.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 08:27:13 PM by Iggy »

Offline alisenjafi

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  • Posts: 811
  • They say HIV comes from monkeys!
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2006, 10:52:00 AM »
Actually I just saw this article this morning. I am not a spokesperson for GMHC but  I will look into it.
I just saw something this morning on tv and wanted to post about the elderly getting screwed on medicare.  Sister Hillery is fighting , which is when I found this.
Being election weather we should all bring this up to the politicians who don't mind handing you their brochures as you try to make you way home with the shopping.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2006, 10:59:14 AM by alisenjafi »
"You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does"
The Smiths

Offline Iggy

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  • Posts: 2,435
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2006, 11:53:55 AM »
.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 08:24:53 PM by Iggy »

Offline alisenjafi

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  • Posts: 811
  • They say HIV comes from monkeys!
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2006, 12:05:30 PM »
Because I am on HASA and my health issues I am only at GMHC 2 days a week, volunteer another 2 days. It was getting to be an overload so I worked out where I deal less time as an assistant ,file and the like.
My background was retail and at the same time the internet was making an impact on retail, Sustiva was making an impact with me. Which is how I got fired.Which is where I brought up my involvement with GMHC.
That day I didn't get a chance to go, though I heard that many people were dissapointed with the fact there wasn't a vision of where things are going. Many people are forced into collecting data to justify spending but as your experience clearly outlines every so oftern we all need a reality check.
I have a feeling but am not an expert that this is all because of the mentality of the gov't.
As a democrat i see we have been on the defensive since Bush took the reigns , I hope if we take back the gov't , dems will move to fix things then waste time and money going after the mess the republicans made.
Saying that I am talking about the smaller things . I hpe all NYers here print this out and confront the canvessing politicians about this!
"You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does"
The Smiths

Offline Iggy

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  • Posts: 2,435
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2006, 12:12:11 PM »
.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 08:23:46 PM by Iggy »

Offline alisenjafi

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  • Posts: 811
  • They say HIV comes from monkeys!
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2006, 07:14:49 PM »
Subject: Gay City News: Debacle threatens AIDS housing (Marjorie Hill quoted)
 
On Tuesday, GMHC participated in a press conference organized by NYS Senator Tom Duane at the offices of the NYC HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA).  The press conference was followed by a community meeting here at GMHC, attended by some 100 providers, clients, and community members.  Stay tuned for additional updates from Michelle O’Brien in Public Policy on the HASA Action Group.
 
The story from Gay City News, in which Marjorie is quoted, also appears online at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_541/debatetheatensaids.html
 
 
Debacle Threatens AIDS Housing

Advocates cry foul over sudden rent spikes city, state could see

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

Elected officials and advocates for people living with HIV or AIDS gathered Tuesday in Midtown to skewer the Pataki administration over an adjustment in the way rent is calculated for PWAs in the city who live in government-subsidized housing so that their monthly payment will no longer be limited to 30 percent of their income, but could well exceed 50 percent.

The provision of state law coming into play limits the amount that those with HIV or AIDS in such publicly-supported residences can retain for all other purposes—food, transportation, clothing, and more—to $330 per month.

The most shocking revelation at Tuesday’s press conference was that the policy, which advocates said they learned of only last week, will go into effect on November 1—and those tenants affected may receive as little as 10 days’ notice of a change that could wreak havoc with their monthly budget, and perhaps their housing stability.

Yet, interviews Gay City News conducted with officials in the city, state, and federal governments found that none was able to speak with absolute certainty as to whose guidelines should in fact govern the situation, and whether advocates were correct in asserting that the new policy was illegal.

And, it also became apparent that advocates were, at the very least, kind in attributing the responsibility for the fire drill facing poor New Yorkers living with AIDS to capricious action by the state, rather than any failure or shared responsibility at the city level.

The Tuesday press conference drew together many who for years have worked shoulder to shoulder on AIDS advocacy issues. Chelsea Democratic Senator Tom Duane, the Legislature’s only openly HIV-positive member, was joined by Dick Gottfried, also a Chelsea Democrat who chairs the Assembly Health Committee, and Brooklyn City Councilman Bill de Blasio, who heads the General Welfare Committee that monitors the city’s delivery of AIDS services.

Advocates included Dr. Marjorie Hill, interim executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC); Jennifer Flynn, who heads up the New York City AIDS Housing Network; Armen Merjian, the lead staff attorney at Housing Works, an advocacy and services group; and Gina Quattrochi, the executive director of Bailey House, which provides AIDS housing and housing services.

Duane termed the changed rent rules “heartless and shortsighted,” emphasizing as many others did that for those living with HIV, “housing is healthcare.” Most of those who spoke emphasized the threat that many of the 2,200 individuals and families affected by the policy could face homelessness after a welcome respite of stable housing in their lives. Emphasizing that the amount of money that these individuals will be allowed to retain amounts to only $11 per day, GMHC’s Hill termed the policy “criminal.”

“It is inhumane and we won’t have it,” she said. “The reality unfortunately is that poor people are under attack.”

Quattrochi, saying that George Pataki and others need to “start living the reality that they create for others,” challenged the lame duck Republican governor to try to live on $11 a day.

Gottfried termed the policy “stupid,” arguing that setting a limit on the income people can retain after rent discourages those who are able to work from doing so.

Gottfried and Duane pledged to work together to attempt a legislative override of what they described as Pataki administration policy.

Duane Starks, a 46-year-old Brooklyn resident who has lived with HIV for 20 years, described the impact the rule change would have on his life. His current income, primarily in Social Security disability, amounts to $1,000 each month, of which he now pays $450 in rent, already 45 percent of the total. Under the new rent scheme, his money left over for transportation, clothing, and meals—he is ineligible for food stamps—would decline from $550 each month to $330.

Starks has lived at his current address in Bedford-Stuyvesant for the past three years. He said he found it through a scattered-site program run by the Black Veterans for Social Justice, and he termed the location “a very nice building,” in contrast to “roach-infested, rat-infested, run-down tenements” he’s suffered before. He also said he went through about five years without a place to call home, spending some of that period on the streets.

“I am being directly affected by this cut,” he said. “This is atrocious. It is going to send me into the streets. I don’t know how I am going to make it, how I am going to live.”

Having just gotten word of the change this past Saturday and needing to come up with an extra $220 in rent in less than three weeks, Starks said he did not yet know what he would do next.

Advocates for individuals such as Starks described how they had just learned of the dire turn of events within the past week and are scrambling to mount a united front against a policy that came down from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Noting that the group was gathered in front of the headquarters of the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration, Duane emphasized, “I don’t want anyone to think that HASA did anything wrong. In fact HASA is now a strong ally against Governor Pataki. We are all united—clients, advocates, organizations, and the city HRA [Human Resources] administration. We are all united against this terrible Pataki policy.”

In fact, however, HASA, and its parent agency, HRA, have known since at least 2004 that the new policy might be coming down—according to both Michael Hayes, an OTDA spokesman, and Barbara Brancaccio, a representative of HRA Commissioner Verna Eggleston. The two agree that 2004 was when the state completed an audit of the HRA program and found it ran afoul of state law that governs an array of housing initiatives Albany oversees. In Hayes’ view, the change does not represent new policy, but rather the state finally requiring New York City to fall in line with the other 57 counties.

The Duane press release, he charged, is “completely off the mark,” saying the city first knew there were problems a year or two before the audit was completed, as early as 2002.

Asked why the state was giving residents only 10 days’ notice of the new rent guidelines, Hayes responded, “That’s something you should take up with the city.”

Brancaccio conceded that the audit identified a problem, but said the city fought hard to beat back the state’s effort to force it into compliance, buckling only because the dollar amount of withheld reimbursements reached $150 million. Asked how negotiations that spanned two years could boil down to low-income PWAs being given two or three weeks’ notice of a dramatic rent increase, she said, “There was no malice involved,” but also that she was “not prepared” to provide a more detailed explanation.

Another significant issue that remains a mystery several days after advocates turned out in protest is whether the new policy, whatever the demands of state law dictate, can legally be implemented given federal housing guidelines. During the press conference, Housing Works’ Merjian and Flynn, from the AIDS Housing Network, pointed to a number of federal programs under which rent is capped at 30 percent of income and pledged to get chapter and verse on the regulations, possibly as the first step in litigation.

David Vos, who oversees the AIDS housing program at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, confirmed that any state and local government using funds under the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS, or HOPWA, program do indeed have to limit rents to the 30 percent level. He hastened to add, however, that his knowledge of the housing units at issue—which he emphasized was based only on second-hand information from New York advocates who had contacted him in recent days—indicated that they were not funded by HOPWA—a surprising fact given the pivotal role the program plays in creating permanent housing for low-income people living with HIV.

Remarkably, neither Hayes at the state level nor Brancaccio at the city was able to state categorically whether federal funds were involved in housing the 2,200 New York City families at risk. Asked initially whether there were Washington dollars in the mix, Hayes said he assumed there were. Told that HUD’s Vos said there was a strict HOPWA 30 percent rule, Hayes changed his assessment, noting that the state had not run into this problem in any other county in New York .

Brancaccio offered no further elaboration of what role, if any, Washington plays in the housing units at issue.

 
 
 
"You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does"
The Smiths

Offline felix

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  • Posts: 6
  • keeping a positive attitude
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2006, 08:07:09 AM »
I totally relate to this article. I live in Australia and am on a pension I receive $512.10 per f/n plus $5.20 pharamacetical and $98 rent (per f/n) yet my rent just increased to $400 p fn and the agents have outsourced the payment to a firm which charges me $9 to direct debit (per qtr). We don't have rent subsidy here and I am on a waiting list for government housing and told I now have a 9 year wait. Last year it was only 8 years.  I have Plasmablastic Lymphoma of the lung, tonsils, neck, spend 3 months at a time in hospital on Chemo, and 4 or 5 days a week as an outpatient with blood and platelet transfusions along with other things, but can't get into government housing - I think they just hope I die so they don't have to put me up in state housing. I can't only access $10K in a year from my Superranuation (and its based on their approval of my finacial status)and survive heavily from family (my parents are in their late 70's). Governments should not be trying to force people out of accomodation.  The roof over our heads is one of the few things we have left - Apart from our positive strenth. P.S. I even have to have a job reassessment review to see if I can work even though since earlier this year I have had nearly every day attending hospital as an inpatient or outpaient.  At least when I got home my cat still remebered me ...... someone still loves me ......

Offline alisenjafi

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  • Posts: 811
  • They say HIV comes from monkeys!
Re: Adults on Welfare With H.I.V. or AIDS Hit With Rent Increase
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2006, 11:02:58 AM »
Quote
  At least when I got home my cat still remebered me ...... someone still loves me ......
I suggest you send a letter to Bono, he might give you a shiney red ipod!
There seems to be a thread with people in the so called first world with HIV, or is it just us?
"You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does"
The Smiths

 


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