In New York City, HIV/AIDS continues to grow exponentially, with over 3,000 people diagnosed each year (New York City HIV/AIDS Annual Surveillance Statistic 2010).
The HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) is an agency within the Human Resources Administration (HRA). It was one of the first government agencies to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today, HASA “remains among the most comprehensive government programs serving people living with HIV/AIDS in the world” (History of HASA).
Supportive housing or case management serves 4,500 formerly homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. The program not only keeps them healthy and independent, but it actually saves the City millions of dollars in tax revenue that would otherwise be spent on repeated high-cost stays in hospitals and nursing homes.
Wayne Starks has been a client of HASA for over twenty-five years and speaks from firsthand experience that the system needs to improve. Every seven years he has been lost in the HASA database and in turn had to do many of the tasks that his caseworker was supposed to. “The hassle is shameless,” says Starks, “I had to go without support for four months.”
HASA is not a regular public assistance group, “some of us are stronger than others” says Starks. According to him, ‘not supporting such programs is to say that that New York City doesn’t support or have room for the poor, middle class, or people like me’.
Just like other human services, HASA is no exception in the fight against budget cuts and continues to strive for more support from the City. As was mentioned last year in the Who Cares? I Do post, HASA: Fight for Funding, many of the cuts that are made to HASA are eventually restored in the final budget. However, the fact remains that caseworkers continue to be exhausted and in turn the system tends to be neglectful in nature due to the overwhelming amount of clients within an under-funded system. On top of this, the process is beyond tedious for applicants. In order to be a HASA client one must contact the ServiceLine, submit at least six different medical documents, and then each accepted client is assigned to a caseworker in one of the 12 neighborhood centers.
Although last year’s budget included multiple one year fixes and restorations from city council members, already strained HASA programs are facing the same cuts once again, including supportive housing and nutrition programs for people living with HIV/AIDS.
FY2013 as proposed by Mayor Bloomberg concerning HIV/AIDS
|Programs||Risk Amount Cut||Affect/ Impact|
|HIV/AIDS Supportive Housing||$5.086 million||4,5000 people|
|HRA Broker’s Fee Payments||$4.8 million||More than 4,5000 people|
|HIV/AIDS Rental Assistance||$1.257 million||80% of HASA clients|
|HIV/AIDS Food & Nutrition||$995,000||Serves 40,000 meals annually|
|HIV/AIDS Prevention||$1.406 million||All New Yorkers not living with HIV/AIDS|
HIV/AIDS continues to be an epidemic. It is shameful and careless to not put more money and support into prevention, subsidized housing or nutrition programs that help stabilize those impacted. Starks said that while he was in shelter he would end up in the emergency room nearly three times a week, however once he had a place of his own, it was significantly easier for him to take care of himself.
What can you do?
VOCAL-NY is currently campaigning to pass through a bill that would support a cap on rent/subsidized housing for people living with HIV/AIDS at no more than 30% of their rent. Click here for more information and get involved with the cause!
Contact your City Council member and Mayor Bloomberg to remind them that HIV/AIDS continues to rise in New York City and that it is crucial that the city expand its funding for HASA in order to move individuals out of the emergency room and into a home. These people deserve a chance to support themselves!
- “I Talk About HIV Because” YouTube channel supported by Speaker Quinn and initiated by VillageCare.
- “Bloomberg’s Hypocritical Budget Proposal Slashes HIV/AIDS Housing, Nutrition & Prevention Programs” by Jaron Benjamin, VOCAL-NY
Written by: Elise Stukenberg of the Human Services COuncil