"This measure is a lifeline to New Yorkers in need who are struggling with the debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS," said Governor Cuomo. "Through this amendment, we are taking action to prevent homelessness and improve the quality of life for thousands of people living with this disease."
Low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, like others who take part in government housing programs, must contribute to their rent. But unlike other programs available to this population, rental assistance for recipients with HIV/AIDS in New York City does not include a 30-percent cap on the tenant's required rent contribution.
In many cases, those living with HIV/AIDS in emergency shelters and supportive housing could live on their own, but simply can't afford the cost of rent in addition to food and other essential costs of living. These new protections will keep people in their homes and out of costly shelters, which also allows the State to better match the limited number of supportive housing beds to those who need them most.
Homelessness and housing instability not only negatively affect the health of people living with HIV, but are also significant public health issues that increase the risks of HIV acquisition and transmission, studies have shown. In fact, homeless individuals or the unstably housed have HIV/AIDS infection rates that are three to nine times higher than those in stable housing.
Senator Brad Hoylman said, I support Governor Cuomos introduction of this budget amendment to further the recently announced affordable housing rent contribution cap to low-income people in the States HIV/AIDS rental assistance program. This program will drastically improve the health and well-being of more than 10,000 New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate as well as the Assembly to help us protect these vulnerable individuals in our communities.
Assemblyman Daniel ODonnell said, "I am pleased to support this program, which will significantly improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers suffering from HIV/AIDS. With this assistance, many vulnerable New Yorkers will no longer face housing insecurity, and will be able to focus without fear on other living essentials like food and medicine. I encourage my legislative colleagues to support this program, and I look forward to working with the Governor to get it passed."
Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez said, Working alongside Governor Cuomo, I have been pleased to deliver new programs to support New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDs. By assisting low-income, HIV/AIDS affected New Yorkers in their search to secure stable, affordable housing; it helps improve their quality of life and ability to stay healthy. Members of my district that are affected by this disease will now be able to live independently and better afford their rent with this program, and I support Governor Cuomos introduction of this amendment to the Executive Budget.
Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works said, This is something that we have been advocating for 20 years. It is an amazing step forward that helps stabilize the lives of low income people living with AIDS. I want to commend the Cuomo administration for having the courage to begin taking the steps that are essential to bringing an end to the AIDS epidemic in New York.
Janet Weinberg, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Gay Mens Health Crisis, said, The 30 percent rent cap is long overdue for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Housing is health care. The only way we can expect people living with HIV/AIDS to stay healthy is by ensuring that their housing is secure and safe. Members of GMHCs Action Center have been fighting for this for over seven years. They deserve all the credit for their fearless and tireless advocacy. On behalf of our clients, Board, staff and volunteers at GMHC, I applaud and congratulate them for this incredible achievement. We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Former Senator Thomas Duane, Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Dick Gottfried and Robert Rodriguez, Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the entire New York City Council for working together to make this happen.