Dear Chairman Schatz, Ranking Member Collins, Chairman Price, and Ranking Member Quigley:
We, the undersigned_______ national, state, and local organizations, write to express our strong support for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program in the Transportation-HUD appropriations bill. We implore you to adopt the House of Representatives proposal, appropriating at least $600 million for HOPWA in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. We are deeply concerned by the Senate budget proposal that reflects the Biden Administration’s funding of HOPWA at $450 million. This funding level would result in thousands of extremely low-income people living with HIV/AIDS becoming homeless, thereby destabilizing the health of vulnerable individuals who have successfully obtained stable housing. Since the announcement of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, leaders have acknowledged that the United States has the medical tools necessary to end the HIV Epidemic. However, research shows that we cannot end the HIV Epidemic without addressing the housing needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Inadequate funding of the only federal housing program solely dedicated to addressing the housing needs of individuals with HIV/AIDS will be a barrier to the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative.
Advocates are calling for an investment of $600 million into the HOPWA program to ensure that almost all current grantees are at least flat-funded and to begin to address the real need of thousands of low-income persons living with HIV. In the United States, an estimated 100,000 people with HIV/AIDS are experiencing homelessness, an estimated 400,000 people living with HIV/AIDS need housing assistance, and HOPWA is only able to serve about 55,000 households, thereby addressing only 14% of the current need.
For 29 years, HOPWA has provided a national safety net for very low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. The program provides competitive and formula grants to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Through these grants, cities and states design and deliver community-based, cost-effective housing and supportive services to people living with HIV/AIDS. HOPWA is critical because housing remains the greatest unmet need for people living with HIV/AIDS. Stable housing, like the housing provided by HOPWA grantees, leads to better health outcomes for those living with HIV. For people living with HIV, a better health outcome means viral suppression. An individual who is virally suppressed cannot transmit the HIV virus to another person, thereby ensuring the health of their entire community. Further, HOPWA leverages income from local communities. According to HUD, the HOPWA program leveraged $1,129,414,685.08 from state and local jurisdictions in the last program year.
HIV does not affect all Americans equally, making the need for adequate HOPWA funding in certain communities more important than ever. 93% of HOPWA funds serve extremely low to very low-income households. During the last program year, 10% of HOPWA’s homeless beneficiaries were veterans, and another 41% were considered chronically homeless. The program placed 22,984 new individuals into housing while providing housing for 49,880 households, provided 105,071 individuals with supportive services, and 111,228 individuals with housing information services. 66% of HOPWA funds are serving the BIPOC community.
If Congress and the President are serious about ending the HIV epidemic in America, we implore you to fund HOPWA at least at $600 million for FY22.
If you have any questions about this letter, please contact Lauren Banks, Executive Director, at the National AIDS Housing Coalition (LaurenK@nationalaidshousing.org).
National AIDS Housing Coalition (DC)