[Hpn] NYC Must Pay AIDS Patients for Nights Without Shelter

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Thu, 21 Jun 2001 16:02:47 -0700


http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/21/nyregion/21AIDS.html

New York Times 
June 21, 2001

City Must Pay AIDS Patients for Nights Without Shelter
By SARAH KERSHAW

n her second rebuke to the Giuliani administration for its treatment of
homeless people with H.I.V. or AIDS, a state judge has found the city in
contempt of a court order guaranteeing them immediate housing, and has
ordered payment to 17 sick people for nights spent without shelter.

Last month, the same judge, Justice Emily Jane Goodman of State Supreme
Court, cited the city for not providing adequate housing for five homeless
men with H.I.V. or AIDS, in violation of a 1999 order requiring the city to
provide "medically appropriate" housing to them on the same day they seek
it.

At that time, Justice Goodman fined the city and said that she was reserving
judgment on the other 12 plaintiffs in the case. The suit was brought by
Housing Works, a nonprofit group that won the 1999 court order. On Tuesday,
Justice Goodman ruled that the city had denied all 17 people their right to
shelter.

In the ruling, Justice Goodman ordered the city to pay each of the 17
plaintiffs $250 for each night they were not provided with immediate and
medically appropriate shelter, for a total of $9,000. The 1999 court order
required that the Division of AIDS Services and Income Support  the city
agency that is responsible for providing housing and other services to
people with AIDS and H.I.V.  secure rooms with refrigerators by midnight on
the day a homeless person with AIDS or H.I.V. seeks it.

Justice Goodman's ruling comes after a federal judge in Brooklyn last fall
ordered the division placed under federal oversight, saying the agency was
depriving thousands of its clients of adequate food, shelter and medical
care.

In Tuesday's ruling, Justice Goodman said some of the 17 plaintiffs in the
housing case were "left on the streets, in the rain or in the freezing
cold." In the 33-page decision, she said that some were turned away by
hotels, including the Sheraton and other higher-priced hotels the city has
used for emergency shelter since the order went into effect, while others
were given wrong addresses for rooms or sent to city homeless shelters
unprepared to care for them.

Yesterday, city officials, who had acknowledged violations of the May court
order in the cases of five of the homeless men, denied violating the rights
of the other 12 and said they planned to appeal the decision.

Corporation Counsel Michael D. Hess, the administration's top lawyer,
described Justice Goodman as "philosophically biased against the city." He
added that his office was considering filing a motion to have the judge, who
has ruled against the city on other cases, removed from the housing case.

"A lot of these problems are isolated cases," Mr. Hess said of the housing
situation, adding that in most cases, when homeless clients do not receive
immediate shelter it is because of clerical errors, or because hotels that
had accepted reservations turned them away because they looked bedraggled.

"The city did everything it could," Mr. Hess said.

While advocates for the homeless and others involved in the case said the 17
examples of inadequate housing were so easy to find that they suspected a
much more widespread problem, city officials have insisted that violations
are "rare lapses." 

Between January and April, the Division of AIDS Services and Income Support,
an arm of the Human Resources Administration, placed 9,000 homeless people
and families in emergency housing, city officials said.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

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