In response to the unique and varied housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program was created in 1992. The program, housed in the Office of Community Planning and Development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), directly addresses the housing and service needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Research has shown that housing is the greatest unmet service need for people living with the disease.
Housing is healthcare. Stable, affordable housing offers the best opportunity for persons living with HIV/AIDS to access drug therapies and treatments and supportive services that will enhance the quality of life for themselves and their families. When people are housed, they can access and adhere to drug treatments and therapies and require fewer hospitalizations and less emergency room care. It has been estimated that as many as half of all people living with HIV/AIDS will need housing assistance at some point in their illness. For many of those, short-term assistance with rent, mortgage, or utility costs alone will provide the necessary support to remain healthy and in stable housing. But others are struggling with multiple diagnoses of HIV and mental illness and/or substance use. Access to housing assistance and services is often further complicated by histories of incarceration, institutionalization, and homelessness. HOPWA housing assistance helps prevent homelessness and creates access to medical care and support services for individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS.
The President’s proposed FY2013 budget of $330 million for the HOPWA program is once again far below NAHC’s recommendation based on housing need. NAHC recommends $380 million in appropriations for FY2013, which would provide urgently needed housing assistance for 72,960 people with HIV/AIDS and their families. The President’s decrease in funding would cause more than 400 families to lose housing assistance, even though HUD estimates that more than 145,000 households still have unmet need for AIDS housing services. Many of these families are already struggling to make ends meet and any cut to HOPWA could be devastating.