Bush Proposes Expansion of Housing Assistance for People with AIDS
Seeking to expand housing programs for people with AIDS, President Bush said Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should subsidize housing in new areas rather than add more funding to existing programs, the Associated Press reports. HUD is spending $258 million this year on AIDS housing subsidies, but because regions must have at least 1,500 HIV cases to qualify for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, 13 states -- Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming -- do not receive money. Bush was asked to increase the program budget to $300 million, with most of the new funding going to communities with existing programs. Gina Quattrochi, president of the AIDS Housing Coalition, explained that rising rents and longer life expectancies for HIV-positive individuals are "burdening" these programs, and that without more funding for programs already in place, the Bush proposal could actually lead to more evictions of people with AIDS. "We welcome an expansion, but it has to be an expansion with an increase in funding. Otherwise it will jeopardize current programs," she said, noting that there are waiting lists of 5,000 for AIDS housing assistance in New York, 1,800 in Boston and 500 each in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The cities of Honolulu and Miami and communities in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas also report increased housing needs. Bush's HUD budget proposal did not specify how much money would be spent in new areas, nor did it state how the qualification formula would be revised. His recommendation was viewed "as a positive gesture to gay rights," as David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, acknowledged that gay activists hold "a great deal of apprehension" toward the administration. The proposal indicates that Bush has "taken note of the needs of people with AIDS," he said (Holland, Associated Press, 3/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.