HOUSING AID STILL NEEDED

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The city’s attempt to dodge thousands of dollars in fines for neglecting to provide adequate housing to people with AIDS failed a couple of weeks ago.

On December 27, a panel of state appellate judges upheld a ruling made by Judge Emily Goodman last June that found the city in contempt of an earlier decision requiring that the Giuliani administration find medically adequate housing for the city’s homeless clients with AIDS on the same day they request it. The city appealed Goodman’s decision, which included a fine of $250 for every night each of the 17 homeless people represented in the case, called Hanna v. Turner, was left out in the cold. But two days after Christmas, the appellate court said the city had showed no real efforts to improve the situation: “Not only had the judgment been violated in specific instances, but there had been no substantial compliance therewith,” wrote the panel.

Lawyers representing homeless clients were pleased that the court is holding the city to the letter of the law. “Substantial compliance by the city won’t work anymore,” said Bob Bacigalupi of Legal Service of New York City.

The case started in 1999, when a judge first ordered the city to improve its services. For a time, the Giuliani administration complied. But problems began to develop in August of 2000, when several DASIS clients were turned away at hotels or given incorrect addresses to shelters. Housing Works, a nonprofit AIDS housing group, filed the motion for contempt, and won a year later.

Last month’s ruling may not be the end, however. The Bloomberg administration is considering appealing to the state’s highest court, according to Georgia Pestana, the city’s assistant corporation counsel.