NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ Examines Permanent Housing Shortage for People Living With HIV/AIDS in New York City
NPR's "Morning Edition" today in a special report examines the difficulties that the 25,000 HIV-positive residents of New York City face in finding permanent housing. The city, in response to long waiting lists for HIV/AIDS housing assistance and the "increased" danger facing HIV-positive homeless individuals, has begun housing HIV-positive residents in city hotels. The program, which costs "millions" of dollars annually, does not necessarily provide adequate resources for HIV-positive individuals, according to NPR. Renaldo Decos, an HIV-positive man who is currently living in a room "the size of an elevator" with a bathroom down the hall, said, "Going to these hotels stresses you out so much. You can't cook, can't sleep properly, you always got to be watching your room." While New York officials say that the program -- which houses approximately 5% of New York's HIV-positive population, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) -- adheres to the 1997 law guaranteeing "medically appropriate" housing for HIV-positive individuals, including individual rooms and refrigerators for medications, "[s]tories abound" about people being housed in rat-infested apartments or physically disabled HIV-positive residents being housed in buildings without elevators. Jennifer Flynn of the New York City AIDS Housing Network said she has seen "great increases" in the cost of housing in the city and a corresponding increase in homelessness among HIV-positive individuals. She added that many HIV-positive residents are also drug users or have a co-diagnosis of mental illness, both factors that "greatly reduc[e]" their ability to keep housing. Some "success stories" do exist for HIV-positive New Yorkers looking for housing. Paul Teraneh, who got an apartment through the NYCAHN, said he can now focus on his health instead of worrying about housing. According to HIV/AIDS advocates, "housing is healthcare" for HIV-positive individuals. The report is part of "Housing First," a year-long project looking at the housing situations of people with special needs (NPR Web site, 9/13). An audio version of the report is available online in RealPlayer Audio.
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