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Paterson Vetos Popular HIV/AIDS Housing Bill

By Dave Lucas


Albany, NY – New York's Governor is in the hot seat after vetoing legislation that would have helped thousands of AIDS and HIV patients pay their rent and utilities... Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The State Assembly and Senate passed a bill that demanded New York's government pay more of the rent and utilities of people on welfare with AIDS and HIV. The idea was to cap the rent paid by these individuals, so they wouldn't have to devote more than 30 percent of their income to housing. Governor David Paterson had agreed to sign the 30 percent rent cap bill, but vetoed it on Sunday, claiming it would prove too expensive during a difficult budget year. New York City Mayor Michael Mayor Bloomberg praised the action as "difficult and wise." State senator Thomas Duane, the sponsor of the bill, issued a statement decrying the veto as "an incredible injustice."

Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate's Democratic majority, brands the veto "... a betrayal of everything the governor used to stand for." He goes on: "Vetoing a bill that protects lifesaving access to affordable housing for 30,000 of our most vulnerable citizens is morally reprehensible and fiscally irresponsible."

Health advocates, Democrats, and those who would benefit from the bill, protested outside of Paterson's New York City office this morning. The protest was led by Charles King, the president and CEO of Housing Works, the largest Aids service organization in the country. Activists point out that approx. 30,000 low income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS could be affected by the bill, including about 10,000 New York City residents.

Paterson's veto follows his rejection of 6,000 items this past summer in an attempt to close the state's $9.2 billion budget deficit. Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook responded to a call for comment: he says the Governor stands by his veto statement.