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NYC agrees to pay $4.8 million settlement to AIDS group

NYC agrees to pay $4.8 million settlement to AIDS group

New York City officials last week agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the AIDS housing and advocacy group Housing Works for $4.8 million, The New York Times reports. The agency filed the suit claiming that the city government under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani wrongly pulled government contracts from the agency after Housing Works officials regularly protested against Giuliani's administration. Housing Works protested the mayor's appearances, disrupted his speeches, and filed lawsuits against the city administration after Giuliani took office in 1994 for what the agency said were failing AIDS policies in the city. In October 1997, a series of posters depicting deputy mayor Fran Reiter as an "AIDS murderer" went up all over the city, but Housing Works denied any involvement with the poster campaign. However, shortly after the posters appeared, the city gave Housing Works a poor audit report, launched an inquiry into the agency, and pulled its contracts with the organization. Housing Works attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff says the city unfairly retaliated against the organization, noting that other city agencies with even more troubling audits continued to receive funding. Housing Works executive director Charles King called the settlement a repudiation of Giuliani. New York City senior litigator Lawrence Kahn, however, says the city decided to settle the case on the eve of a final pretrial hearing because of the "unpredictability of litigation." Housing Works provides permanent homes for 112 HIV-positive people and works to secure temporary housing for low-income HIV-positive city residents. King says the agency will likely use some of the settlement money to establish an investment fund to provide more housing services.

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