HIV-Positive Renters in New York City Leaving Homes Because of Foreclosures, New York Times Reports
At least 50 HIV-positive renters in New York City have notified city housing organizations in the past few months that they had to leave their homes or have been evicted because of foreclosures and that they are having difficulty finding new homes, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, although the exact number of families affected by the nationwide housing crisis is unclear, officials have said HIV-positive renters are in a "particular squeeze." Foreclosure rates in New York City have doubled between 2004 and 2007, according to a study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. HIV-positive people face special difficulties when their rental homes go into foreclosure because of a lack of public funding to assist them and ineffective laws aimed at preventing landlords from discriminating against HIV-positive people, the Times reports. In addition, issues faced by HIV-positive tenants "begin long before the eviction date, when landlords with nothing else to lose stop paying the utilities," according to the Times.
The city's HIV/AIDS Services Administration provides rental assistance to HIV-positive people, and the City Council in March made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against rental applicants who receive federal, state and local housing assistance; however, the law applies only to buildings with six or more units and does not penalize people who violate it. In addition, although HASA provides assistance, people are expected to contribute 30% of their incomes to their housing costs but cannot be left with less than $330 monthly.
Sean Barry, co-director of the New York City AIDS Housing Network, said that HASA "pays 20% less" than the federal Section 8 housing program, adding, "If a landlord has multiple clients applying with Section 8 or HASA, they know they can play around with the regulations and get more money from Section 8." The city provides emergency housing to people living with HIV/AIDS who are evicted from their homes; however, the housing is intended to be temporary (Dembosky, New York Times, 8/26).