Imagine being responsible for a monthly mortgage payment, but because of HIV or AIDS, you, or a family member are unable to handle the financial obligation. What will happen? Will you have somewhere to go, or end up on the street? Even though news reports about Americans living with AIDS and HIV are not as prevalent as they were 20 years ago, there are still millions suffering from this incurable and deadly disease. When saddled with a mortgage they are unable to meet because they are too ill to work, these beleaguered homeowners and their families face the threat of foreclosure and even worse, homelessness.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) has heard their stories and concerns and has taken much needed action. On April 24th, HUD announced that it would provide $29 million in grants for over 1200 low-income individuals and their families who are living with AIDS and HIV. The agency’s goal is multi-faceted and seeks to correct a series of unfortunate circumstances by:
- Providing monetary assistance for housing
- Opening access to support services, such as life skills, employment training, and job readiness
- It is hoped that these efforts will in turn result in a more stable living environment which will make it easier for these homeowners to have better access to healthcare and other services they need
How the program was developed
The grant comes through HUD’s HOPWA program, or Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. All told, the funding will back 26 local programs in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is truly a commendable act and it is sincerely hoped that it will alleviate the pain and suffering that so many are experiencing.
HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan stated, “These grants will give our local partners a vital resource to keep low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS healthy. Having a place to call home can make all the difference to someone who might otherwise be homeless or on the brink of homelessness.”
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped HUD pinpoint which communities are in the most need, based on their tracking of active AIDS cases. The HOPWA program is both a formula entitlement program and a competitive grant program. According to the press release, “HUD’s formula grants are managed by 137 local and state jurisdictions, which coordinate AIDS housing efforts with other HUD and community resources. Overall, these resources assist over 60,000 households annually to provide stable housing and reduced risks of homelessness for those living with HIV and other challenges.”
The current program is actually an extension of a policy enacted last year by HUD, which seeks to persuade communities to participate in the local coordination and planning of AIDS outreach with local Continuum of Care (CoC) activities.
The 26 service providers who will receive funding this year from HUD have all committed to coordinating with local CoCs within their communities to more efficiently serve local HIV/AIDS housing and service needs. The ultimate goal for all of the agencies involved is to cut out the red tape and speed up the services and support those homeowners living with AIDS or HIV are so desperately in need of.
A primary focus of the HOPWA program is to reach out to those on the verge of homelessness. For those who are already displaced, it is anticipated that they can be helped as well. These grants also support the Obama Administration’s Opening Doors plan, which is designed to prevent and end homelessness. Another goal of this coordinated effort is to reduce the viral transmission of the disease. Through data gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National HIV AIDS Strategy/ HIV Care Continuum, the spread of AIDS and HIV are more prevalent among the homeless population.
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