Last updated: April 1, 2004

HOUSING WORKS VICTORY IN THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

by Michael Kink and the Staff of Housing Works

HOUSING WORKS VICTORY IN THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT!!!! NEW YORK CITY'S PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI IN HENRIETTA D. V. BLOOMBERG DENIED

On Monday, March 22, 2004, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling denying New York Cityâs motion for permission (through what is known as a writ of certiorari) to appeal Henrietta D. v. Bloomberg to the United States Supreme Court, thereby rendering the groundbreaking decisions of the district and circuit courts in the case final and nonappealable. After nine years: we won!

Although the compliance process continues, litigation over the legal rights of over 41,000 clients of New York Cityâs HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) has finally ended, more than nine years after the filing of this lawsuit in February 1995. Simply put, the City and State can no longer contest their obligation to follow the law in providing benefits and services to the 31,000 class members and their 10,000 dependents.

Update readers will remember our reports on the groundbreaking court rulings in the Henrietta D. case, which established the rights of HASA clients to reasonable accommodations and effective services under federal disability rights law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehab Act. New York City must now provide an effective ãrampä to services for HASA clients, and federal courts hearing the case have forced improvements in staffing, services and timely delivery of benefits to thousands of New Yorkers living with AIDS as a result.

As we have previously explained, the defendants in this lawsuit have filed motion after motion in this case ö at taxpayer expense ö in a fruitless attempt to deny the plaintiffs the rights accorded them under federal and state law, and frankly to make ãbad lawä under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable statutes. And each time, the courts have soundly rejected these motions.

By seeking appeal in the Supreme Court, the City not only once again demonstrated contempt and disregard for the more than 41,000 indigent New Yorkers assisted by the decision in Henrietta D., but they unequivocally attempted to establish disastrous national precedent under the federal disabilities statutes, further eroding the rights of all disabled citizens in our country. The Supreme Courtâs decision not to consider the Cityâs appeal thus not only preserved the legal obligations and rulings established in this lawsuit, but also the protections established by the federal disability statutes, protections that the Bloomberg administration plainly sought to dismantle.

Once again Housing Works must extend its special thanks to all of those who share in this victory, including co-counsel Pillsbury Winthrop, the HIV Law Project, Virginia Shubert, Dr. Tanya Zangaglia, Dr. Ernest Drucker, Cathy Bowman of South Brooklyn Legal Services, Cynthia Knox of Bronx AIDS Services, and the many courageous HASA (DASIS) clients who risked their health to stand up for the rights tens of thousands of indigent New Yorkers living with AIDS.