The great news is that, thanks to improvements in medical treatment, people with AIDS are not only surviving, but thriving, and those with a subsidy are retaining them indefinitely. The result, however, is that there are currently 229 people on the waiting list in Philadelphia for HOPWA subsidized housing. The wait can be up to two years, although for people who are homeless, the wait is approximately one to three months.
In the past year, local activists have increasingly sought more housing for people with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power Philadelphia has led this movement to raise awareness and secure more funding for HIV housing. In response, ACT-UP has been invited to attend the bi-monthly HIV/AIDS Housing Advisory Committee meetings at the Office of Housing and Community Development. A city agency, OHCD receives funding from HUD and funds the agencies that provide housing and supportive services in Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties. ACT-UP has also participated in the planning of an HIV/AIDS Housing Needs Assessment that will be underway in the beginning of 2012.
In August, ActionAIDS Inc. partnered with Pathways to Housing to respond to a request for proposal to HUD for a HOPWA-funded Housing First Program. Though HUD did not accept the proposal, OHCD is pleased to announce that it has identified funding and will fund the ActionAIDS/Pathways to Housing First proposal in early 2012.
The Housing First model, presented at the National Housing Summit in New Orleans in September, first provides housing to someone who is homeless, and then offers an array of medical, mental-health and other support services to improve health and prevent the spread of HIV.
ACT-UP has been advocating for Philadelphia to implement the Housing First model.
HUD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing partnered with the National AIDS Housing Coalition to sponsor the Housing Summit in New Orleans. OHCD has worked with NAHC over the past two years by participating in both regional and national housing summits, relaying the need for additional HOPWA funding for Philadelphia and the surrounding suburban counties.
Last year, Congress cut most federal funding designated for housing by 14-16 percent, with the exception of the HOPWA program, which historically has never been cut. This year, there was talk of cutting HOPWA funding, but HUD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing developed a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was submitted to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy last February. This strategy views housing as both healthcare and prevention. It calls for changing the formula for funding from the total cumulative of cases of AIDS to HIV case reporting, with the goal of showing a need for increased funding. HUD plans to present this proposal to Congress in December.