AIDS Alabama announces that in the late night hours of Thursday, July 14, 2016, the Senate passed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) which includes the modernization of the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) formula. The measure will ensure that the HOPWA formula reflects today’s HIV epidemic. Instead of basing funding on an antiquated system using cumulative AIDS cases, the funding now will be distributed based on the number of people currently living with HIV, along with the poverty level and cost of housing in a jurisdiction. This will greatly affect those living with HIV/AIDS in the South, now considered to be the epicenter of the HIV epidemic. AIDS Alabama CEO, Kathie Hiers, has worked for over 15 years advocating for this change to the HOPWA formula. “Alabama’s funds will increase substantially over a five-year period. The funding will actually be distributed based on living HIV cases, and will no longer include deceased AIDS cases,” Ms. Hiers stated.
The bill phases in a formula change over five years, factoring in local housing costs and poverty rates, and capping grantee losses at 5% and gains at 10% of the prior year allocation. The House passed H.R. 3700 in February so the measure should go to the President’s desk shortly. Access to affordable housing is one of the greatest unmet needs of people living with HIV.
More than half of all people in the U.S. living with HIV will likely face an unstable housing situation at some point. HOPWA is the only federal program solely dedicated to providing state and local governments with resources to ensure that stable housing and support services are available to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS.