Last updated: October 9, 2003

HOUSING WORKS SLIMED BY WASHINGTON TIMES, BUT CONSERVATIVE DC DAILY PRINTS
RETRACTION

by Michael Kink and the Staff of Housing Works


Yesterday, the Washington Times printed allegations in its daily "Inside Politics" column that Housing Works was using taxpayer funding to carry out organizing for protests at the Republican and Democratic National
Conventions next year. However, the conservative daily ran a retraction of their story today that made it clear that Housing Works doesn’t use any taxpayer funding to do advocacy and organizing. Conservative activists on the Hill have been circling like hawks around AIDS advocacy and program funding, seeking to do deep damage to both by any means necessary.

The Washington Times (which is run by the Reverend Moon cult and is widely read on Capitol Hill) has been an important part of this effort, serving as an outlet for questionable-to-outrageous allegations about AIDS
prevention, service and care programs across the country. Housing Works is and always has been a nonpartisan organization that carries out aggressive AIDS advocacy. We have always had friend and enemies among
Republicans and Democrats, liberals, moderates and conservatives. We have often worked productively with very conservative members of Congress, the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Council, so we have no bone to pick with conservatives, per se. But the attack-dog conservative activists who are targeting AIDS advocacy are bad, bad folks. And this time, they went too far.


Washington Times reporter Greg Pierce’s "Inside Politics" column yesterday included an item titled "Biting the hand" based on last week’s Update story on organizing for AIDS-related activism at the national party conventions in NYC and Boston next year. "A New York AIDS advocacy group is already
planning protests for the 2004 Republican National Convention," wrote Pierce, "—and they’re doing it with tax dollars."


The story went on to provide inaccurate figures on Housing Works government contract funding and to recount former NYC Mayor Giuliani’s failed attempts to retaliate against Housing Works’ intense criticism of his AIDS policies by blocking us from receiving HUD funding.


Pierce apparently did absolutely no research on Housing Works or our funding – from the shape of the story, it looks like he assumed that we’re 100% government-funded and that anything we do is paid for by the taxpayers. But of course, that’s not true. Housing Works released the following statement yesterday:


Housing Works is the nation's largest community-based AIDS service organization and the nation's largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization. In his "Inside Politics" column in the Washington Times, Greg
Pierce stated that Housing Works "is already planning protests for the 2004 Republican National Convention -- and they're doing it with tax dollars."


This statement is wrong on the facts. Housing Works received $3.919 million in government contracts out of $26
million in total revenues last year, and that government funding was used solely to provide housing, services and medical care for homeless and formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. We don't use a dime of
taxpayer money to carry out our vigorous AIDS advocacy. Support for our advocacy and organizing efforts comes from individual contributions, as well as revenue from our four popular Housing Works Thrift
Shops, our Housing Works Used Books Cafe, our food service and catering operation The Works and other entrepreneurial ventures.


We advocate for effective use of public and private resources to fight AIDS, house homeless people and protect public health -- and we don't use a dime of taxpayer money to carry out that advocacy. We ask the Washington Times to correct the record on this fact.
And, lo and behold, the national editor of the Times, Ken Hanner, agreed to run a correction! (We even got a slightly apologetic call from Pierce himself.


The correction ran in today’s Inside Politics column:

Correction
An item in yesterday's column incorrectly stated that planned protests by a
New York AIDS advocacy group at the 2004 Republican National Convention were
funded by "tax dollars."
Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, writes: "Housing Works
received $3.919 [million] in government contracts out of $26 million in
total revenues last year, and that government funding was used solely to
provide housing, services and medical care for homeless and formerly
homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. We don't use a dime of taxpayer money
to carry out our vigorous AIDS advocacy."

Our hope is that this experience makes Hanner and Pierce a little more wary
of their rabid-dog anti-AIDS-advocacy sources on the Hill, who don’t seem to
have any regard for the truth. And we hope that the retraction might be
considered relevant when the usual suspects call for audits and
investigations of Housing Works funding and advocacy. We’re not looking
forward to such calls, but we’ve been toughened up by many years of
Giuliani, and we continue to comply fully with all federal laws and
regulations regarding funding and advocacy.


TEXT OF THE WASHINGTON TIMES ARTICLES


Biting the hand


A New York AIDS advocacy group is already planning protests for the 2004
Republican National Convention — and they're doing it with tax dollars.
Housing Works, which receives about $1.5 million a year in federal
grants, sent an e-mail Saturday inviting activists to a meeting Thursday "to
plan advocacy and demonstrations during next year's Republican National
Convention, to be held in New York City (and for the Democratic National
Convention in Boston as well)."


The e-mail invited AIDS activists to "join with others who care about
speaking out on AIDS to the Republicans and to the nation."
In 2000, Housing Works was at the center of an imbroglio over federal
housing aid. New York City lowered the group on its funding list in response
to Housing Works' aggressive protests of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's
homeless policies.


Andrew Cuomo, secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton
administration, then took control of the city's share of federal housing
funds, and a spokeswoman explained "HUD acted aggressively to protect
homeless service providers."


But others saw election-year politics at work: "It seems to me that it
was only part of the way in which the federal government was being used to
try to help Hillary Clinton's campaign" for the New York Senate seat, Mr.
Giuliani said at the time. "I have no doubt that was being done."


Correction


An item in yesterday's column incorrectly stated that planned protests by
a New York AIDS advocacy group at the 2004 Republican National Convention
were funded by "tax dollars."


Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, writes: "Housing
Works received $3.919 [million] in government contracts out of $26 million
in total revenues last year, and that government funding was used solely to
provide housing, services and medical care for homeless and formerly
homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. We don't use a dime of taxpayer money
to carry out our vigorous AIDS advocacy."