New York City Agency Housing HIV-Positive Homeless People in Luxury Hotels, New York Post Reports
New York City now spends as much as $329 per person per night to house HIV-positive homeless people with AIDS in "glitzy" four-star hotels, the New York Post reports (New York Post, 4/11). The city's Division of AIDS Services and Income Support is required by a 1999 court order to provide housing for homeless HIV/AIDS patients on the day they apply for emergency housing (Associated Press, 4/11). DASIS finds shelter for about 200 homeless AIDS patients each day in locales ranging from "crack-infested brothels to four-star hotels." As the agency has "failed to find permanent housing" for some of their clients and has "ruined" relationships with less expensive hotels by failing to pay them in time, DASIS is "forced" to turn to four-star luxury hotels. Jennifer Flynn, director of the New York City AIDS Housing Network, estimated that the city spends about $180,000 per week on hotel rooms, or more than $9 million per year. "They have the money to house these people, and they're wasting it," she said, adding, "Putting them in these hotels shows that the city has no plan to provide these people with permanent housing" (New York Post, 4/11). The city's Human Resources Administration, which oversees DASIS, said that it turns to four-star hotels due to "limited availability" of less costly rooms, and HRA spokesperson Debra Sproles noted that funds spent on expensive hotel rooms indicates the "unworkability of the court order" (Associated Press, 4/11). Some DASIS clients report waiting up to 12 hours each day to receive hotel placements and facing "scorn" when entering the "swank" hotels in which they are placed (New York Post, 4/11).
Federal Oversight Appeal Dismissed
In other DASIS news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit yesterday dismissed the city's appeal of a September 2000 court order that placed the agency under federal oversight for three years, the New York Times reports. The three-judge panel said it "did not have jurisdiction" in the case, and sent it back to the Federal District Court. Brooklyn Federal Judge Sterling Johnson last year ruled that DASIS be placed under federal oversight because the agency "failed to provide adequate services for thousands of people with AIDS" and had "delayed or ended subsistence benefits like emergency housing, rent assistance, food stamps and Medicaid" for its clients. However, Johnson's court order did not specify "required action on the part of the city." The Court of Appeals determined that it lacked jurisdiction to overturn the ruling because the district court "had yet to determine" such requirements. Leonard Koerner, the city's chief assistant corporation counsel, said, "We will be able to appeal again once the case becomes final. The merits of the case shall be reviewed again by the circuit court at a later date" (Saulny, New York Times, 4/11).