Some Emergency Housing for HIV-Positive People in New York City Violates Housing Codes, City Council Study Says
About 73% of emergency housing facilities for HIV-positive people that are subsidized by New York City have outstanding housing code violations -- one-third of those for serious offenses -- according to a study conducted by the City Council Oversight and Investigations Committee, the New York Daily News reports. The study examined 25 of the 114 facilities used by the city HIV/AIDS Services Administration, which provides housing for about 31,000 people (Haberman, New York Daily News, 6/27). The facilities were chosen at random for the study (Thrush, Long Island Newsday, 6/28). The panel found that 50% of the units did not include mattresses, bedding or toilet paper, which are required by HASA for emergency housing units. The report also shows that in nearly six out of 10 facilities inspected, HIV-positive people were found sharing rooms, which is forbidden by HASA regulations (Associated Press, 6/27). Some of the facilities also lacked heat, locks, electricity and hot water or were infested with rats and other rodents, according to the study (New York Daily News, 6/27). City Council members said that HASA failed to move residents in a timely manner from the emergency housing facilities into permanent housing. The council also said that the city regularly pays facility owners more than $2,000 per month per person for substandard housing that is not "medically appropriate" for HIV-positive people, the New York Sun reports.
The panel called for the creation of a central "housing referral system" to monitor the quality of the housing and to track residents, the Sun reports. In addition, the panel called on HASA to create more permanent housing and require written contracts with landlords, as opposed to verbal agreements, according to the Sun (Gardiner, New York Sun, 6/28). "Safe, medically appropriate housing is integral to the health of those who live with HIV/AIDS," City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D) said, adding that people with "low or no incomes turn to HASA for help, not another slap in the face" (Friedman, New York Post, 6/27). A spokesperson for the city Human Resources Administration, which oversees HASA, said, "When they provide us with the detail on the facilities they are describing, we will investigate immediately and take whatever steps are necessary for our clients" (New York Daily News, 6/27). However, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) said of the council's findings, "I don't think we can spend the next six years of my administration answering every crazy press conference that people at City Hall who don't know what they're talking about have" (New York Sun, 6/28).