Strictly Stasi
by Anthony Stasi
Oct 07, 2009 | 6826 views | 1 1 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This column often highlights low-income housing issues and homelessness. Most people that receive low income housing assistance, or “Section 8 Housing,” are responsible for paying 30 percent of their income toward rent, with the government footing the rest of the bill. It sounds like a sweet deal, but in reality, the places where they live are not great, and they are still only left with 70 percent of what little income they have.

But it’s still a generous program - unless the recipient is a HASA client. HASA stands for HIV AIDS Services Administration, which is part of the city’s Human Resources Administration. They administer housing benefits for poor people with AIDS. HASA clients do not have their housing costs capped at 30 percent like other people do, so their personal costs can run pretty high.

The City Council recently passed a resolution that urges the State Assembly to pass legislation that has already passed in the State Senate (S.2664/A.2565). This would put HASA clients in the same boat as all other low-income housing recipients.

Critics can say that this is a giveaway program, but the fact is that if people are on the street they consume more city services than if they are actually housed. Currently, there are 11,000 HASA clients that could risk returning to the street. It’s not good for neighborhoods, and it’s not cost effective for the city.

The city does need help from the state in this instance. The state is in difficult times financially, but this is ultimately a way to avoid paying more money later. Remember that this is a vulnerable population that is without question “at risk” and a lack of housing will certainly decrease their chance of living longer and better.

The Assembly's leadership is often more defiant than in the State Senate. This legislation passed the Senate almost unanimously, and yet it is stuck in the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. This committee, which includes some local assembly members , needs to get this legislation passed. It will be passed eventually, so why not sooner? We are headed into winter time, although it's not as if there is ever a good time to be living on the street.

Moore Money

Walking past the New York Stock Exchange as I do on a daily basis to go from my job to the gym, I see a lot of protests and rallies. Two weeks ago, there was a small rally with people chanting “Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Wall Street Greed Has Got To Go.”

This crowd was lead by filmmaker Michael Moore, who recently released his film, Capitalism, A Love Story. I am not big fan of Wall Street. And for what it’s worth, I am doing far better financially in this recession than I ever did in the economic boom times. But the city benefits from a robust Wall Street. Oddly enough, social programs can be open to more possibilities if the city is getting more money from tax revenue. The city receives a much-needed revenue stream when that sector is in the black.Why are there no protests about their greed when times are good?

Maybe all of the trading and investing is a little too much for us all to understand, but markets need to function and investment and capitalism is a natural way to prime the pump of innovation. As a writer and social services worker, I am in no way a Wall Streeter, but I know the issues for which I work and care about are better off with a strong Wall Street, and Michael Moore knows this as well. If he is so angry with capitalism, he can always give his earnings to the government.

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October 20, 2009

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