AIDS activists claimed victory Thursday afternoon after the Bloomberg administration scrapped plans to cut $10 million from the HIV/AIDS Services
The budget ax would have eliminated 248 caseworkers who help poor people living with AIDS get assistance with health, food and housing. The caseworkers’ positions are apparently safe now.
On Tuesday, the advocacy group Housing Works sued to stop the cuts.
Attorneys for the Bloomberg administration on Thursday morning told U.S. District Court Judge Cheryl Pollak they were withdrawing the cuts, according to Housing Works’ Senior Staff Attorney Armen Merjian.
The city’s Law Department and Human Resources Administration–which oversees HASA–did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A legal clerk for Pollak declined to confirm the outcome of this morning’s proceedings.
“The outcome is very clear and a huge, huge victory,” said Merjian.
The lawsuit alleged that Bloomberg’s proposed cuts were illegal because they would have put the city in violation of its own law, which stipulates a 1:34 ratio of HASA caseworkers to clients. The strict caseworker ratio was established after a lawsuit against the Giuliani administration that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the final hours of the annual budget fight, the city will still have to find another place to recover the $10 million. “But the cuts will not be as profound and they will not be to the very life blood of very poor people living with AIDS,” Merjian said. “45,000 people are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” he said.