Last May, you'll recall the news item about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbying Gov. David Paterson to veto a bill that would have offered greater rent relief to more than 11,000 New York City residents living with HIV/AIDS. The measure passed by the State Assembly and Senate would have prevented people receiving housing assistance from the city's HIV/AIDS Services Administration from spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Paterson promised to sign the bill in 2009 and 2010.
On Sunday, the governor vetoed the bill.
"This is my most difficult veto. I recognize, sadly, the history of the inadequacy of services government has brought to bear for those with H.I.V./AIDS. I have pledged not to impose unfunded mandates on cash-strapped localities, and to prevent the state from taking on additional financial burdens outside the budget process without an identified funding source.
Paterson pledged to sign the bill if the Legislature made other budget cuts equal to the $20 million the bill is estimated to cost.
HIV/AIDS and housing advocates have slammed Paterson for the veto, saying higher subsidies would have meant the equivalent savings by preventing evictions, emergency housing and payments of rent. "I'm appalled and I'm incredibly disappointed. Governor Paterson had last December made a promise that he would sign this bill into legislation," said President Charles King of Housing Works. "Frankly, he's lied to people who are living with AIDS."
Bloomberg, who aggressively lobbied for the veto, praised Paterson's decision as "difficult and wise." The city couldn't afford the bill, Bloomberg claimed, although the mayor didn't have a problem finding $41 million for his proposed Governors Island beautification project. Priorities, priorities ...
During the July 2009 Senate vote, you may recall that Sen. Thomas Duane delivered an angry and emotional 3am floor speech reminding people of the horrors of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
In New York City, more than 100,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS. The city has the highest AIDS-case rate in the country. New data show HIV is spreading in New York City at about three times the national rate. Black gay and bisexual men are hit the hardest, according to the New York City Department of Health.
Bloomberg Opposes Housing Subsidy for HIV-Poz