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Advocates, researchers and people living with AIDS help Nadler introduce housing resolution

The day before the North American Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit IV got underway this week, conference organizers gathered with New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, people living with HIV and local providers at a press conference in Washington, D.C. to announce Nadler’s reintroduction of a Congressional resolution establishing the critical role of housing in fighting HIV and AIDS.

Speakers Tuesday included National AIDS Housing Coalition Executive Director Nancy Bernstine, Housing Works President and CEO Charles King, Delaware advocate Joe Scarborough, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Researcher Dr. David Holtgrave; and J’Mia Edwards, a D.C. resident on an waiting list for housing funded by HOPWA, the federal AIDS housing program.

Edwards broke down in tears when describing her tenuous housing situation; she has been told she will have to leave her current home but doesn’t know when or where she will go. “I’m tired of seeing this person or that person for answers. I’m afraid of getting sick,” she said before touching Nadler’s elbow, looking at him directly and thanking him for reintroducing the resolution.

“I’m proud to stand here with you and these advocates,” said Nadler, who emphasized that he is pushing for $360 million in HOPWA funds. The President’s latest budget flat funds the program.

Way to go, Joe

Scarborough, after receiving NAHC’s call to action, was able to convince the Delaware legislature to unanimously endorse the same resolution that Nadler introduced. He also got Delaware U.S. Representative Mike Castle to support the resolution on the federal level. Castle is the bill’s only Republican cosponsor.

Scarborough worked with allies in different sectors of Delaware that normally don’t get involved in this conversation, including Planned Parenthood.

“I’m hoping this resolution brings new voices to the discussion and inserts housing into the conversation about HIV prevention and treatment,” Scarborough said.

This is a personal issue for Scarborough. He has been HIV-positive for 17 years. He is on a waiting list for both Section 8 and HOPWA housing. He is “doubled up”—living with friends, but doesn’t have a home of his own.

Posted on June 5, 2009 at 1:31 am