Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , June 18, 2013
Earlier this April, the National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) learned of a proposal to move the Office on HIV/AIDS Housing (OHAH) to a division within the Offices of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS). Discussed at a Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, this move was suggested in light of budget constraints but has since caught the attention—and ire—of HIV/AIDS advocates, allies, and people living with HIV/AIDS all across the country. We view such a merger as a significant diminution to an effective, well-managed program which currently helps thousands of people with HIV/AIDS manage their illness and build toward better individual and community health outcomes. Further, we believe that such alignment will severely limit the Office’s ability to be an effective inter- and intra- governmental voice for the housing needs, policies, and programs for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Chief among our concerns are the differences between the two programs. HOPWA, for one, focuses on helping unstably-housed people achieve stability and better health outcomes through housing and supportive services, while the broader SNAPS programs have a specific homelessness focus. In addition, HOPWA is focused on integrating structural interventions to help treat the disease, while HUD’s homeless programs are primarily focused on finding shelter for those experiencing chronic homelessness rather than longer-term solutions to HIV/AIDS. What’s more, with the pending implementation of the Affordable Care Act, HOPWA’s integrated approach takes on added importance as many thousands of people with HIV/AIDS shift to Medicaid.
We call on HUD to step up and reinforce its commitment to the housing needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS by rejecting this proposal and ensuring that the OHAH has the resources, support, and direction to fulfill its mission. The housing needs are of persons living with HIV/AIDS are varied and deserve the vision of an office that can see that community strategies too must be varied, working across multiple systems to ensure successful housing, health, and service outcomes.
We strongly urge HUD to appoint a Director with recognized experience in the HIV/AIDS field to fill the current vacancy and fulfill its commitment to sustain an innovative, creative Office of HIV/AIDS Housing. The work of an OHAH Director, on par with other agency officials, is imperative in advancing housing in both development and implementation of the NHAS. Without a Director, we fear that the OHAH’s current advances made may be lost and future successes impossible.
Please sign the Change.org petition spearheaded by the Southern AIDS Coalition asking HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to appoint a Director to the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing and reinforce our country’s commitment to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, and make sure your networks do the same.
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