AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS


Posted by Tim Murphy , August 15, 2013


Rep. Nadler receives the Compassion in Public Service award from Harlem United SVP Douglas Berman.

Yesterday morning, about 100 folks who work in the field of healthcare for the homeless here in NYC met for a special breakfast in a downtown federal office building. The event? The sixth annual National Health Care for the Homeless Day, which was started in 2008 by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council as a part of National Health Centers Week. This event is a chance for agencies that work in this realm, such as Housing Works, Harlem United and HELP/PSI, to honor a staffer who goes the extra mile when it comes to providing housing and other supportive services to homeless clients. These are the day’s “Sheroes & Heroes.” Housing Works’ awardee was clinic manager Debora Carrero, Harlem United’s was medical assistant Rahima Hannan, and HELP/PSI’s were Juan Rodriguez, Jose Vazquez and Natacha Contreras.

The overall goal of the event is for those who work in this community to empower one another in their shared mission to end homelessness and ensure access to quality health care for all.

This year, the event’s capstone Compassion in Public Service Award went to U.S. Congressman from NY Jerrold Nadler. Housing Works’ national advocacy head Christine Campbell was instrumental in lining up Nadler for the award. “He’s been a strong supporter of continued access to housing dollars in New York City,” said Andrew Leonard, research and policy analyst at Harlem United, “particularly around making sure that at very least we don’t cut back on Section 8 funding. He also recognizes the important of HOPWA funding,” he said, referring to the federal program Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. HOPWA, noted Leonard, has thankfully received a funding boost to help reduce some of the damage of budget-slashing sequestration in U.S. Congress, which has badly hurt many other social programs.

Nadler was presented his award by Harlem United senior vice-president for policy Douglas Berman.

The topics honored at yesterday’s breakfast are particularly important, noted Leonard, at this moment when New York City has a record high rate of homelessness, with over 57,000 New Yorkers in shelters or on the streets and 21,000 children in shelters, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. Leonard said he thought that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “ObamaCare,” would be able to get more homeless and low-income people covered by healthcare. It will both streamline the enrollment process, he said, and will raise the income limit to get Medicaid from about $11,500 a year to about $15,000. According to Leonard, that seemingly modest income increase can potentially get 510,000 more people in New York State covered by Medicaid.

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