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VOCAL-NY partnered with TakeRoot Justice to conduct a participatory action research project to document the experience of looking for housing with subsidies. The findings derive primarily from matched pair testing: the representatives of 114 apartment listings advertised on Zillow and Trulia were contacted by researchers. Each representative was contacted by someone presenting as having a housing subsidy as well as by someone presenting with income from employment. The outcomes of the outreach were then compared to evaluate differences in treatment. In addition to matched pair testing, we also called the Brooklyn-based property management companies and apartment buildings listed on a resource list provided by the New York City Human Resources Administration to evaluate the usefulness of that list.This research was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City and our communities. Stable housing has always been a public health issue, and the pandemic has brought that issue into great relief, as the City has struggled to meet basic safety standards for homeless New Yorkers. As more New Yorkers find themselves in need of support and safety nets to survive the economic fallout of the pandemic, housing must be more accessible to subsidy holders. The findings from our research are more salient than ever. As housing insecurity grows throughout the city, more protections need to be in place for tenants who rely on subsidies to pay their rent.
More Than a Home: How Affordable Housing for New Yorkers Living with HIV/AIDS Will Prevent Homelessness, Improve Health and Reduce CostsMay 17, 2013
The near-universal standard for affordable housing requires that tenants pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards rent. In New York State, only one low-income housing program denies tenants this standard affordable housing protection -- the HIV/AIDS rental assistance program.Low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and their families in New York City's "independent living" rental assistance program are forced to pay upwards of 70 percent of their disability income towards rent, well above what is considered affordable housing or a sustainable rent share burden. As a result, hundreds of low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are homeless and thousands more are on the brink of losing their homes. In addition, chronically ill people are forced to make difficult trade-offs between medical care, food and other essential needs in order to pay their rent each month.Many are unable to continue this difficult balancing act and become homeless, with all the risks to their health -- and to HIV prevention efforts -- that homelessness entails. Homelessness can be a virtual a death sentence for a person living with HIV/AIDS. It jeopardizes the success of other interventions to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, making it harder for people living with HIV/AIDS to adhere to medication and medical appointments, adopt proper nutrition, and practice safer sex and other forms of HIV prevention.A simple solution -- and one that has broad bi-partisan support in the state legislature -- is to ensure that homeless and formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards their rent if they already qualify for rental assistance. This report outlines why this is not only humane and just, but also a highly effective public health intervention that will produce cost-savings for taxpayers.
Just over six months ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of New York, bringing floods and standing water to neighborhoods across the tri-state area. But if the destructive capacity of flooding and water damage was bad, it soon became clear homeowners were faced with an even greater threat. Flooded homes not dried out within 24 to 48 hours were at serious risk of developing mold infestations, threatening the health and safety of thousands of New Yorkers. At the end of January 2013, city administrators created the privately funded Neighborhood Revitalization NYC program ("NRNYC" or "the program") to remediate 2,000 homes, responding to growing reports of mold contamination in the press.The organizations that drafted this report have engaged with the City and the non-governmental agency administering the Neighborhood Revitalization NYC program throughout the several months it has existed, and have been able to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the program. The city and program administrators have been extremely open to feedback, and many obstacles have been improved because of that openness. However, as the results of this study indicate, for a variety of reasons, the city's current approach to mold remediation post-Sandy needs expansion and improvement. Six months later, the acute need for mold remediation across New York City has not abated, and mold's disproportionate impact on low-income and immigrant communities has resulted in displacement, sickness, and continued crisis in Sandy-affected neighborhoods. Major community-based organizations with roots in those neighborhoods have stepped in to help construct solutions. Members of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a coalition of labor unions and community, faith-based, environmental and policy organizations across New York, have begun to survey residents in order to meaningfully assess the post-Sandy mold crisis across the city. In March and April, Faith in New York (formerly Queens Congregations United for Action), Make the Road NY, and New York Communities for Change conducted phone and door-to-door surveys across the Rockaways and in Staten Island, reaching almost 700 households. Feedback from residents forms the basis for this report's analysis of the threat of mold in hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods and our recommendations on how city leaders should respond to the crisis.
Beyond Methadone: Improving Health and Empowering Patients in Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) - Hepatitis C, Overdose Prevention, Syringe Exchange, Buprenorphine, & Other Opportunities to Make Programs Work for PatientsOctober 6, 2011
Over the last three decades, the War on Drugs has stripped people of myriad rights, blocked life-saving public health policies and created new social problems, such as housing and job discrimination. The negative consequences of criminalization are not felt equally, as communities of color and low-income people are much more likely to be targeted for drug-related law enforcement. Increasingly, New York has recognized that drug use is more effectively addressed through a health and safety approach, rather than a criminal-justice approach. One important example is Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), which offer methadone and buprenorphine (synthetic opioids) to people who are dependent on heroin and other opioids. Methadone treatment has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), drug overdose and incarceration while also improving a person's quality of life. In fact, nearly 30,000 New York City residents rely on methadone maintenance treatment to manage their dependence on heroin and other opioids. Policymakers and public health officials should devote attention to improving OTPs for several reasons. First, serious health issues affecting active and former drug users, such as HCV and overdose, can be mitigated through effective methadone programs. Second, drug-policy reforms have diverted people into treatment programs over prison. Third, growing interest in reducing Medicaid spending has drawn attention to effective treatments for drug use and related harms. Lastly, the New York Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (OASAS), the state oversight agency, may soon be consolidated with other state agencies, opening up the possibility for review of its programs. While methadone can reduce government spending and improve public health, VOCAL New York (VOCAL-NY) has identified a number of concerns related to the provision of care at OTPs in New York City. Accordingly, with the research support of the Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center, VOCAL-NY conducted the current study to gather detailed data from the perspective of OTP patients on the key challenges and opportunities for OTPs in New York City.
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