New York Councilmember Criticizes Federally Funded Housing for Homeless AIDS Patients in ‘Luxury Hotels’
More than $100,000 in federal taxpayer dollars each week is used to house more than 20,000 homeless people with AIDS in New York City in " luxury hotels," New York City Councilmember Stephen Dibrienza said in an interview on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" yesterday. According to Dibrienza, $50 million in federal taxes from the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program were given to the city of New York to be dedicated to permanent housing for homeless AIDS patients. Dibrienza said, "This is outrageous. It is a waste of taxpayer money. It does no good for the homeless individuals themselves, and it angers the rest of us who have to pay the bill, and it's something this administration knew was coming. ... [A]nd they could have avoided it." Although the city is mandated to give housing assistance to homeless AIDS patients, the law only requires that they be given shelter. But the HOPWA funding was intended to build permanent housing throughout the city that would cost approximately $75 per night including supportive medical services, in contrast to the $329 or $350 per night currently spent per patient on hotel accommodations. Dibrienza said that instead of spending the money to build permanent housing, Mayor Rudy Giuliani's (R) administration received permission from Washington to redirect the funding for general operating funds. O'Reilly summarized that "basically everybody in America is supporting some project they don't know about in New York City," and raised the "philosophical question" of whether "we owe it to homeless AIDS patients ... to give them a $329 hotel room to alleviate their suffering?" Dibrienza said that homeless AIDS patients should receive a "low-priced, affordable, medically appropriate unit" and that "[c]ommon sense is missing" from the current situation. O'Reilly had invited Giuliani to appear on the broadcast and added, "[H]opefully he will in a few days and explain his side of the story" (O'Reilly, "The O'Reilly Factor," Fox News, 4/18). The New York Daily News reported last week that Giuliani "insisted" that the city saves money by occasionally housing HIV-positive homeless people at luxury hotels ( Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.