The new CEO of Bailey House reflects on its 35 years of housing people living with HIV/AIDS — and its future
by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.
Daniel W. Tietz became CEO of Bailey House in October 2017. The New York City-based nonprofit organization serves more than 1,800 men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses through housing, health services, and community support. Tietz is a registered nurse and a lawyer with more than 30 years of experience.
He succeeds longtime CEO, Gina Quattrochi. She died of cancer in December 2016, prompting the board of directors to conduct a national search for a new leader.
Most recently, Tietz was chief special services officer at New York City’s Human Resources Administration. He oversaw the HIV/AIDS Services Administration and other programs for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Before that, he was formerly executive director of the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America.
Bailey House formed in 1983 as the AIDS Resource Center. In 1986, ARC opened the first U.S. congregate residence for people living with HIV/AIDS. In 1995, the organization named it Bailey House to honor one of its founders, Reverend Mead Miner Bailey. The Christopher Street residence in Greenwich Village was later renamed Bailey-Holt House to honor support from Broadway producer Fritz Holt. In 1997, the East Harlem Service Center opened, which added job training, a pantry and substance abuse services. Schafer Hall, a housing residence in East Harlem, opened in 2001.
Tell us about the people Bailey House serves.
About half of our clients are living with HIV. The other half are not, but they look similar regarding health and services needs. We expanded services to those who are HIV negative in our communities since in many cases they are also at substantial HIV risk.
If we do our jobs right — focus on homelessness and housing instability, on poverty, on hunger, and on folks who are marginalized — in addition to helping those with HIV, then we also effectively address HIV prevention and improve overall health outcomes.
A little more than half of the funding goes to our housing programs. Regarding congregate housing, there are 156 units, including 76 for people with HIV and 80 for veterans regardless of HIV status. There are also 237 scattered units, including 135 for those with HIV and 102 for others.
Tell us about your advocacy concerns.
On the federal level, those of us serving marginalized communities are super challenged. The tax scam that was signed into law will undoubtedly lead to less federal money for health, housing, and social support programs.
For example, when it comes to affordable housing development, the money from HUD, whether it’s for HOPWA or for Section 8 or other low-income housing programs you can’t have created, via this terrible tax law, that big of a budget gap and imagine that Congress and the White House aren’t going to be looking at literally every entitlement and grant program to make harmful and painful cuts.
One of my biggest concerns at state and local levels is Medicaid funding. New York has an expanded and expansive Medicaid program. If there were significant federal cuts to Medicaid or block-granting of the program, I worry that city and state taxpayers are not going to be able to entirely replace that funding to keep necessary services in the communities we serve and that have the highest needs.
Do you have any other tax law concerns?
We raise a substantial portion of our unrestricted budget annually via private fundraising, and you’d better believe we’re worried about it.
However, I’m hoping that the increase in the standard tax deduction won’t affect how most of our donors decide to give because I think they care about Bailey House and what we do. I also believe that most folks look at how well they’re doing from year to year and give in proportion to their resources.
That said, the changes to the tax code could matter to some people, especially if they don’t continue to get the same federal tax breaks for their state and local income and property taxes that they used to get. If some choose not to itemize deductions and take the newly increased standard deduction, I do worry about the impact on their giving.
After three decades fighting for social justice, what keeps you involved?
I counted the other day and realized that I’ve been in and out of government five times. I like the intersection of health, housing, human services and public policy, as well as being in the mix of delivering those things and leading a place that delivers quality services.
This last government gig [at New York City’s HRA] was by far the most interesting I’ve had and also the hardest.
What we don’t have today regarding federal leadership, we quite thankfully have here in New York with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and HRA Commissioner Steven Banks. Here we have people who are committed to this fight. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep our shared commitments to those with the most significant needs even through all our struggles with the folks in Washington.
I’ve had losses in my personal life. I also know plenty of people living with HIV, so this fight really matters to me.
There’s some continuity in my career, from where I started in the HIV epidemic to now. It seems like now would be a terrible moment to get off this boat. I want to stay on in the fight until the end, working hard to see the epidemic’s end for all — sooner rather than later.
Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. is the editor-in-chief of POZ magazine. Find him on Twitter @oriolgutierrez. This column is a project of Plus, Positively Aware, POZ, The Body, and QSyndicate, the LGBT wire service. Visit their websites — http://hivplusmag.com, http://positivelyaware.com, http://poz.com, and http://thebody.com — for the latest updates on HIV/AIDS.