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Eighteen Arrested Urging Governor Paterson To Take Action on 30% Rent Cap AIDS Housing Bill
Senator Tom Duane, Leading Service Providers & People Living With HIV/AIDS Hold “Die-In” On Broadway
New York – Senator Tom Duane joined the heads of several major organizations and people living with HIV/AIDS today in a symbolic “die-in” blocking traffic along Broadway near City Hall. The advocates called on Governor Paterson to work with the legislature to enact a bill that would prevent homelessness for about 10,000 low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and their families. Before the civil disobedience, 200 people rallied outside City Hall with a coalition of elected officials and HIV/AIDS organizations. Although the Governor called it his “most difficult veto” in September, he later told Gay City News that he wants to work with the legislature to find a way to enact it before leaving office. He has since refused to provide additional details, however, and failed to place it on the agenda for an aborted special session originally planned for November 15th. “After breaking his promise to sign this bill by vetoing it, Governor Paterson pledged to work with the legislature to enact it before he leaves office. We don’t want him to break his word twice to our community,” said Jim Lister, a NYCAHN/VOCAL leader. “My ability to keep my home, stay out of the shelter system and remain healthy rests on whether Governor Paterson will show leadership.” The bill, introduced by Senator Duane and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, would ensure lowincome people living with HIV/AIDS enrolled in the HIV/AIDS Services Administration’s (HASA) rental assistance program pay no more than 30% of their income towards their rent. The current policy punishes those who are permanently disabled by requiring they pay upwards of 70% or more of their Social Security income towards their rent. Executive Directors and senior staff from ten organizations were arrested during the civil disobedience, which included staff from Bailey House, Bronx AIDS Services, CitiWide Harm Reduction, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Harlem United, Health GAP, Housing Works, NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) / VOCAL, New York Harm Reduction Educators, and West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. Assembly Members Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and Council Members Robert Jackson and Jumaane Williams spoke during the rally. Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) was unable to participate in the rally but issued this statement in support: "We remain disappointed in Governor Paterson's decision to veto this critical bill, but that does not mean we will stop fighting for what is right. New Yorkers struggling with AIDS must have the opportunity to obtain affordable housing. This is not an issue that will simply go away."

Statements from civil disobedience participants:
“Governor Paterson vetoed a bill that would have brought New York State into line with the federal standard of capping rent at 30% of income for those living under the poverty level. We cannot remain silent in the face of this unconscionable act,” said Gina Quattrochi, CEO of Bailey House. “Staten Islanders stand side by side with our colleagues and friends throughout the city to protest the injustice of the disproportionate rent burden for people living with HIV/AIDS in New York. Staten Island state legislators Senator Savino and Assemblyman Titone, and especially our Republican State Senator Lanza, did serious work on behalf of the 30% rent cap bill, and we find it unconscionable that Governor Paterson chose to subvert the will of the people and our legislators,” said Diane Arneth, Executive Director, Community Health Action of Staten Island. “Imagine spending up to 70% of your income on rent while living with an AIDS diagnosis. The NYS Senate and Assembly understood this, and passed the 30% rent cap legislation. We thought that Governor Paterson understood this, until he shamefully vetoed the bill under pressure from Mayor Bloomberg. Now, the Governor can stand up and make this right before the end of his term. Until he does, we will not relent,” said Robert Cordero, Executive Director of CitiWide Harm Reduction. “The 30 percent rent cap would have prevented homelessness among New Yorkers who have health issues that absolutely require stable housing and who have few alternatives to the streets or the emergency shelter system. The current situation can’t continue. I tried living on $12 per day last Thursday. I was able to make it to work and have breakfast, but I had to choose between lunch and being able to get back home. Forget about buying the cold medicine I needed or paying my phone bill,” said Carolina Lopez, Executive Director of New York Harm Reduction Educators. “It is a travesty that New York is forcing some of it’s most vulnerable residents, poor people living with AIDS, to make a choice between food, medication co-payments, transportation to medical appointments, basic utilities or other life necessities. But that is the reality when people are left with less than $12 per day to live on. I am outraged that when it comes to people with AIDS, New York, who is often a leader in our country when it comes to taking care of its residents, is not even following the federal standards for subsidized housing,” said Eustacia Smith, Director of the Ben Michalski Residence at the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. ”There comes a time when all other avenues are closed to us to correct a grave injustice and solve inequality. We have to put our bodies on the line and stop business as usual, even if it means breaking the law. Governor Paterson's veto of the 30% rent cap bill, which would end discrimination against people living with AIDS and decrease homelessness, is one of the clearest example of this. Our government has failed to protect its most vulnerable citizens," said Jennifer Flynn, Managing Director of Health GAP. “As advocates, providers, decision makers and people living with HIV and AIDS, we need to stand firm and send a strong message to our Legislature and our Governor that this legislation absolutely is necessary,” said Stephane Howze, Chief Operating Officer at Harlem United. “We have an opportunity to prevent homelessness and poverty, save the state money and, most importantly, to do the right thing. We must pass the 30% rent cap legislation now!” “Instead of signing the 30% rent cap affordable housing protection into law, Governor Paterson decided to continue wasteful spending on for-profit shelters that puts the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS at risk. We call on Governor Paterson to work with the legislature in good faith to make this law before he leaves office. Otherwise, we hope that Andrew Cuomo, who enforced the 30% rent cap standard while HUD Secretary, will show leadership where Governor Paterson failed to do so,” said Sean Barry, Director of NYCAHN/VOCAL. ###

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