NY Senate passes PWA rent-control bill
The New York State Senate voted today to pass a bill protecting New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS from having to choose between paying rent and buying groceries.
Says NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn:
“I thank and applaud the New York State Senate for overwhelmingly voting today to provide affordable housing protection to over 11,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, many of whom are on the verge of eviction. State Senator Tom Duane and Assembly Member Deborah Glick deserve particular praise for skillfully sheparding this bill through the legislature.
“By voting in favor of a 30 percent income contribution cap for New York State’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) clients, the legislature is coming to the aid of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who currently pay as much as 70 percent of their benefits toward rent, leaving many of them to live on a little over $11 per day.
“It is my hope that Governor Paterson will sign this bill into law soon. We must stand for fair and equitable housing policy. By making this bill a law, much needed relief will be provided to a most vulnerable community.”
A post on HousingWorks.org gives the background:
Nearly 11,000 low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are at risk of becoming homeless due to a flaw in the HIV/AIDS Services Administration’s (HASA) rental assistance program. HASA clients receiving rental subsidies pay between 50 to 85 percent of their disability income (SSI, SSDI, Veteran’s Benefits) towards rent each month, which leads to high rates of arrears, evictions and homelessness. Those who keep their apartments are forced to choose between paying their rent or buying essential household items like soap and toilet paper.
This bill was originally introduced in 2006, and came about after the State and City announced that they would no longer honor the federal law that caps rental contribution at no more than 30 percent of income for approximately 2,200 HASA clients living in federally subsidized housing. Some clients would see a 200 percent increase in rent virtually overnight.
With a few days to spare, Housing Works and co-counsel Matthew Brinckerhoff rushed to federal court and secured an injunction against the proposed policy, preventing the rental increases. Thereafter, with the injunction in place, the City and State agreed to abandon the proposed policy and honor the 30 percent federal rent cap. They continue to do so to this day. But the 30 percent cap only covered clients in federally funded housing, and that this essential protection should be extended to all HASA clients under New York State law as well. So Housing Works’ Legal Department worked with State legislators to draft a new State law extending the 30 percent rent cap to all HASA clients, and not merely those in federally funded housing.
Momentum has been growing over the last year. The Assembly passed the affordable housing bill , and the Senate already passed it by a margin of 52 to 1  once last July. Governor Paterson told NYCAHN leaders  he would sign the bill when it reached his desk.
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