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Oral Testimony by Invitation Only


Oversight of Proposed Rent Increases for People Living With Clinical/Symptomatic HIV, or AIDS, in Supportive Housing in New York City.


To better understand the proposed changes and their impact on people living with HIV/AIDS.

New York City, NY
December 21, 2006
10:30 A.M.
Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway, 19th Floor

New York City's Human Resources Administration recently announced a plan to implement state policy that changes the way the rental obligation is calculated for people living with HIV/AIDS who are in supportive housing programs. These changes would drastically increase the amount of money such individuals would be required to spend on rent, shifting the obligation from 30% of their income to a requirement that these disabled individuals would be forced to contribute upwards of 77% of their limited income toward rent. There are nearly 2,200 people with clinical/symptomatic HIV, or AIDS, who would be affected by this change. On October 30, 2006, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking this rent increase.

Numerous experts and studies have shown that stable housing is critical to proper healthcare and HIV prevention, and in 1990, Congress passed the "Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS" act (HOPWA). HOPWA makes grants to local communities, States, and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons who are medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, including grants for rental assistance. Congress also directed HOPWA housing subsidies to be calculated the same as the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Section 8 housing, which is capped at no more than 30% of a client's income. HOPWA goes to many, if not most, of the housing at issue in NY. The policy that the state is attempting to impose appears to be at odds with this federal law.

The proposed change raises other concerns and can dramatically increase costs incurred by the State, such as the impact on medical care and further spread of the disease. Recent studies show strong correlations between stable housing and reduced HIV risk, improved access to medical care, and better health outcomes. According to Dr. Angela Aidala, Research Scientist at the Center for Applied Public Health at Columbia University and the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, there are significant differences in drug and sex behaviors associated with housing status. For example, homeless people with HIV/AIDS are more than three times more likely to use hard drugs and two times more likely to report unprotected sex than people living with HIV/AIDS in stable housing. However, when formerly homeless persons with HIV/AIDS are housed, the risk of drug use is reduced by half compared to those who do not change their housing situation. In addition, they are five times more likely to have a doctor visit and six times more likely to be on antiretroviral medication. People who are housed, therefore, are less likely to transmit the disease to others.

A rent increase not only may impact the spread of the disease, but also may increase medical costs, emergency room visits, homelessness, poverty and crime. Moreover, according to Dr. Sam Tsemberis, Executive Director of Pathways to Housing, even in situations where HIV/AIDS tenants received one-to-one at-home visits from a team that included case managers, psychiatric nurses, social workers and substance abuse counselors, the cost was still at least $10,000 per year cheaper than a shelter. According to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) statistics, HIV/AIDS supportive housing costs are approximately $27,000 less per year per person than shelters.

This hearing will provide the Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, Human Resources Administration, housing providers, and supportive housing clients the opportunity to address the impact of a rent increase for the nearly 2,200 people living with clinical/symptomatic HIV, AIDS. It will also clarify whether New York State is in compliance with federal law, such as HOPWA, which governs some of the funding used to create and/or operate the subsidized housing. The hearing is being convened to elicit testimony regarding these issues and to gather suggestions regarding the laws and strategies the State should employ to minimize the associated costs and hardships that will be suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS, should their rental obligation be increased so dramatically.

Below is a list of subjects to which invited witnesses may direct their testimony. Those invited to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minute durations. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee's interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Deborah J. Glick
Member of Assembly
Committee on Social Services


  1. How many individuals and how many households would be impacted by the policy change?

  2. What was the reason for the policy change?

  3. What are the current funding streams being used for the housing units at issue?

  4. What is the relationship between federal law and federal funding that may have been used for capital or operating expenditures, and state law around temporary assistance budgeting?

  5. What impact will this policy change have on other agencies or offices?

  6. What is the practical impact of the proposed increase on the residents affected? Are there other housing or supportive services available to them if they are forced to pay a higher percentage of their income toward rent?

  7. Was research conducted to calculate the ability of individuals and families to afford the newly-increased rent payments?

  8. Were provisions made for emergency housing or shelter funding for individuals and families who would face eviction and homelessness as a result of unaffordable rent increases?

  9. Describe the increased disability-related expenditures that people living with clinical/symptomatic HIV or AIDS incur.

  10. What are the costs of this HIV/AIDS housing and what are the costs of alternative housing (i.e. emergency housing, Single Room Occupancy (SRO) placements, or homeless shelters) for the population facing the new policy change?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on The Oversight Of Proposed Rent Increases For People Living With Clinical/Symptomatic HIV, Or AIDS, In Supportive Housing In New York City are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Elaine Fernandez
Legislative Associate
Assembly Committee on Social Services
Room 522 - Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
Email: fernane@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4377
Fax: (518) 455-4693

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on Oversight Of Proposed Rent Increases For People Living With Clinical/Symptomatic HIV, or AIDS, In Supportive Housing In New York City to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Social Services on December 14, 2006.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

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