E-Newsletter: Expand Federal Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Program

Feb 18, 2016 Issues: Health Care

Expand Federal Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Program

For more than twenty years, I have been an advocate for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), a federal program that provides housing assistance and support services to the more than 145,000 low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. Housing instability is a serious problem for people living with AIDS and makes it more difficult to manage the disease and access support services. Within one year, 96 percent of HOPWA participants achieve disease stabilization and reduced viral loads. Because housing stability plays a key role in preventing the spread of the virus, HOPWA contributes to better individual and community health outcomes. Despite the HOPWA program’s proven effectiveness, current funding levels are insufficient to ensure all low-income people living with AIDS can get the help they need. Recently, Congress considered well-intentioned, but misguided updates to the HOPWA formula to better reflect where the disease is growing. The update does not address the long-term underfunding of the program and would result in New Yorkers currently participating in the HOPWA program losing their benefits. I believe this is wrong. Instead of shifting around limited pools of money and helping homeless people in one part of the country by creating more homelessness in another part of the country, we should be increasing funding for HOPWA to meet the actual needs of people living with AIDS in the United States.

Click here for a video of a statement I delivered on the House floor opposing a well-intentioned, but damaging to New York, update to the HOPWA program.  

Meeting with New Yorkers

At a recent UWS Senior Issues Town Hall, I was invited to speak with my senior citizen constituents about affordable housing and protecting Medicare and Social Security. It was great to meet so many fierce advocates who came out to discuss such important issues with me and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal.

Making sure our seniors are protected and provided for has always been one of my priorities, including making sure senior citizens can continue to live affordably in their homes with the services they need and ensuring the House Majority does not privatize Medicare and Social Security.

 Fighting The Privatization of Our Skies and Advocating for Families Flying Together

Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met to discuss a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Included in the Majority’s bill was an Air Traffic Control privatization scheme – something I believe is an extreme and risky venture that will set back our efforts to modernize America's aviation system and ensure the safety of the flying public, while giving away $53 billion in taxpayer-funded assets to the airlines.  Under the proposed privatization, the same companies that nickel and dime people for baggage and leg room will be making decisions about routes and taxing the public to manage the airspace.  This is not right, which is why I spoke out in strong opposition to the scheme in front of the Committee.

Click on the photo for a video of my speech:


I also introduced an amendment to include the Families Flying Together Act in the FAA bill. As commercial airlines change policies and increase fees for a variety of basic services, it is becoming more difficult for families to sit together.  Parents who are seated apart from their young children must rely on the good will of other passengers to willingly change seats, sometimes asking a passenger to vacate a seat for which they paid a premium in order to accommodate the separated family.  That is not safe, or fair to the families, other passengers and crew.  My amendment would require the airlines to establish a policy to ensure that families traveling with young children are seated together to the greatest extent practicable, and to make the policy clearly available to the public on the carrier’s website.  This is a common-sense reform that grants the airlines flexibility while providing greater transparency and predictability for the flying public.

Protecting Contraceptive Coverage for All Women, Regardless of Where They Work


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that every insurance plan provide preventive care for all enrollees at no out-of-pocket costs. For women, that preventive care includes any FDA-approved method of contraception. When the ACA passed, the Obama Administration recognized that some employers have religious objections to contraception and created an accommodation for religiously-affiliated nonprofits to ensure they could continue to express their religious objection to contraception but their employees could still seamlessly access the health care they choose at no additional costs.

Along with 89 members of the House, this week I led an amicus brief with my colleagues, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) urging the court to uphold the current accommodation going forward. The brief argues that free access to birth control is critical to women’s health. Since 2013, women have saved $1.4 billion on the birth control pill alone and more than 55 million women have accessed free birth control.  Further, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), on which opponents of contraceptive coverage are basing their case, was intended to protect religious rights, not allow one person to exert their religious beliefs over another. This easy accommodation does not burden the nonprofits’ religious beliefs and achieves the government’s goal of providing more women access to critically important health care.