HOUSING WORKS ON FISCAL ROPES AS CITY CONTRACT$ LAPSE

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Citing the loss of yet another city contract, the AIDS housing giant Housing Works is hoping to jettison $1.25 million from its budget in administration and programs cuts beginning next month.

Once the dust settles, Housing Works, which has long been an outspoken critic of the Giuliani administration’s AIDS policies, will no longer provide services to help people with AIDS find emergency housing, find apartments on the open market or provide AIDS and TB prevention education and peer support.

The group’s city contract woes began back in October after the city’s Human Resources Administration yanked its $4.5 million scattered-site contract, accusing Housing Works of financial misconduct. A week later the Department of Health pulled its $450,000 contract. Officials at the nonprofit maintain the contracts were revoked because of an anti-administration rally they held in front of HRA headquarters last fall.

Housing Works predicts that its ongoing lawsuit against the city to reclaim about $1 million in back reimbursements from the scattered site program will likely doom $750,000 more in city contracts set to expire Feb. 28. “It’s becoming clear to us what’s really happening here,” said Matthew Brinckerhoff, the attorrney representing Housing Works in its lawsuit. “Every time we take an action another shoe drops.”

Housing Works’s contract problems are no real surprise to advocates in the AIDS housing world. “Is Housing Works seen as the really vocal critic of the administration’s policies? Yeah,” said Maureen Friar, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “Can they get stung by that? Yeah. Has it happened in politics through the ages? Sure.”

Despite losing a significant amount of programs, the organization is clinging to a couple of congregate AIDS residences, and its adult day treatment and job training programs. Preparing for a future with few if any city contracts, Housing Works officials are banking on entrepreneurial projects like its thrift shops to see them through these lean times.

Calls to Housing Works executives were not returned. HRA has a standing policy of not responding to City Limits inquiries.