National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) is committed to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by ensuring that persons living with HIV/AIDS have quality, affordable, and appropriate housing by advocating for resources and equitable policies that guide this through our own efforts and supporting other Housing and HIV Advocate Organizations.
On December 29th, President Biden signed into law the FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill. This was previously passed by the House on Friday December 23 with a 221-205-1 vote and a 68-29 Senate vote on December 22.
The bill allocates $499 million for HOPWA, a $49 million increase from FY22 and the highest level of funding in history. However, this amount is still far less than the $600 million we advocated for. Our advocacy will continue!
In addition— the nation will benefit from slight increases to other HIV programs and significant investments to other housing programs like Homeless Assistance Grants and Housing Choice Vouchers. Partners should be ready to pursue housing funding from a variety of streams in order to meet the needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
You will find many talking points in our past Press Releases, but here are a few of them to get you started. Using local data how HOPWA has been used in the past and how these funding proposals for HOPWA causes drastic changes in the local HOPWA programs.
HOPWA programs are designed specifically to allow people living with HIV/AIDS to receive the care and support they need without stigma and achieve viral suppression. When people are virally suppressed, they cannot transmit HIV/AIDS through sex. To END the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we need to help all living with HIV/AIDS obtain viral suppression and live a robust life.
It has been a priority by the current and past administrations to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America, and if congress and the President are serious about this bipartisan goal we implore you to fund HOPWA at least at $600 million for FY23.
$600 million for HOPWA ensures that current HOPWA clients will continue to access supportive housing and receive the services needed to live a healthy life. This allocation will also allow grantees to provide additional housing supports to long-standing waitlists as housing is the number one unmet need of persons living with HIV/AIDS. The House THUD committee number is a step to ending HIV/AIDS homelessness in the United States and demonstrates a commitment toward ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
In the United States, an estimated 100,000 people with HIV/AIDS are experiencing homelessness, with an additional estimated 300,000 people living with HIV/AIDS needing housing assistance. For the past few years, HOPWA has only been able to serve about 55,000 households, but with the Biden administration’s proposal for FY23 at $455 million, that number would drop by 10,000 households at a time when we need housing more than ever.
HIV/AIDS is a communicable virus/disease. Those who lack stable housing, and those without homes, are 20% less likely to achieve viral suppression, thereby being able to transmit HIV to others. Without addressing housing needs for low income people living with HIV, the United States plan to end the HIV epidemic becomes null. 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, but have ignored the housing needs that are necessary to achieve these goals. 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.
National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) mentions the housing need for people living with HIV/AIDS, but it fails to address any strategy going forward to increase funding for supportive housing for PLWHA. Housing and 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.
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.
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In 2022, the Biden administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) 2022-2025. This strategy states that this will provide stakeholders across the nation with a roadmap to ‘accelerate efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030.’ It focuses on four main goals:
History: 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 need for people living with the disease.
HOPWA Formula Update (Modernization): Prior to the HOPWA formula update, program funds were based on the number of cumulative AIDS cases since the epidemic began, including those who have died. Public Law 1114-201, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOMTA), signed into law in 2016, included the long-sought switch to count those living with HIV in a given jurisdiction rather than cumulative AIDS. Such distribution better reflects the nature of the HIV epidemic that has evolved over the years through advances in HIV care and surveillance and the increasingly disproportionate impact of HIV in communities of poverty. The update began phasing in the full implementation of the formula change over five years in FY17. It caps grantee gains at 10% and losses at 5% and includes a housing cost factor and poverty factor. FY21 reflects the full implementation of the HOPWA formula update.
HOPWA Funding History
June 30, 2022: Appropriations Committee Approvals Fiscal Year 2023 Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Funding Bill
June 30, 2022: THUD FY23 Appropriations Bill
June 30, 2022: THUD FY23 Appropriations Report
We see this as a step to ending HIV/AIDS homelessness in the United States and demonstrates a commitment toward ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.