The city Health Department has awarded a $ 1.2 billion contract focusing mainly on services to prevent HIV / AIDS – even as the Big Apple grapples with a massive budget crisis over the coronavirus.
The huge nine-year contract to the not-for-profit firm Public Health Solutions was announced May 27 – The same day Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that the city faces a $ 9 billion budget hole because of the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Calling the AIDS contract “very strange,” Queens Councilman Robert Holden, a member of the council’s Health Committee, told The Post, “you’re going through this pandemic.
“A contract of this size over this long period of time should be put on hold,” said the pol, a registered Democrat who was elected as a Republican. “We have a budget shortfall. We should be committing this much money that we don’t have. “
On Sunday, the mayor also announced that he would be taking funding from the NYPD to support local youth groups as anti-police-brutality protests rage – a move that Holden said was “all the more reason to put this contract, everything, under the.” microscope.
“Every agency is going to take a hit, ” he said of impending budget cuts amid the contagion.
To slash police department funding during such an unrest period is “lunacy” and “not rational thinking.”
The mayor did not say how much NYPD funding would be diverted to local youth groups or when, explaining that those details would be worked out in coming weeks during budget talks.
His office did not immediately respond to Holden’s comments.
The Health Department contract comes as the city is recording historic lows in new HIV diagnoses, according to an agency report in November.
The department said that in 2018, the city figure “fell below 2,000 for the first time since annual HIV reporting began in 2001.
“According to the 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report, 1,917 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City in 2018, down 11 percent from the 2,157 new diagnoses reported in 2017, and down 67 percent from 2001,” it said.
Asked about the new HIV / AIDS contract, department spokesman Patrick Gallahue told The Post in a statement, “This is the master contract for HIV services.
“PHS will be responsible for the procurement, subcontracting and management of a portfolio of human service contracts going to various providers across the city.
“Through the subcontracts, most of the $ 1.2B will be passed on to community-based social service providers for the provision of services to prevent new HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, to reduce morbidity and mortality among individuals with HIV, to prevent / respond to the. outbreak of infectious diseases in New York City, and to ensure and promote the health of New Yorkers. ”
PHS has been awarded government contracts in the past to improve health outcomes in low-income and immigrant neighborhoods by helping people enroll for health insurance, providing more nutritious food options and curbing smoking.
A spokeswoman for Public Health Solutions referred questions to the city Health Department.
The contract runs from Sept. 1, 2020, to Aug. 31, 2029.
– Additional reporting by Kate Sheehy