HIV/AIDS Community-Based Groups New York City Losing Funding to Larger Groups, Hospitals, Advocates Say
Some HIV/AIDS community-based groups in New York City, which often target impoverished and minority groups, are losing bids for public funding to larger groups and hospitals that "offer one-stop shopping for a variety of services," advocates have said recently, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, community-based organizations in the past received a large amount of support through the $120 million New York City received in Ryan White Program funding. However, a council that oversees Ryan White funding allocation about three years ago recommended changes in allocations. The changes were adopted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which asked the Medical and Health Research Association of New York City to solicit proposals from service providers, the Times reports. Proposals received by MHRA were scored on a 100-point scale based on how they met program requirements. The recommendations shifted program priorities to access to medical care and maintaining treatment, Judith Verdino, MHRA vice president for special initiatives and HIV, said. Outreach work -- which often focused on access to condoms, clean needles and other approaches -- shifted to focus on obtaining treatment access, according to the Times.
As a result of the subsequent grant decisions, some smaller groups "have been scrambling since last year, trying to survive while scaling back programs, laying off staff members and referring clients to new programs," the Times reports. "A lot of groups in New York are feeling the burn because the opportunities for little groups are drying up as the bigger ones come in," Kwame Banks -- a project director at the Community Resource Exchange, which advises not-for-profit organizations -- said. He added, "They're out on the streets doing the work and don't have time to be philosophical about it. They don't even have the time to do strategic thinking." According to Verdino, the grant decision process was "fair" and "based on how well people are able to present their program and show there will be some results." Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Life Force, an HIV/AIDS education group targeting minority women, might be forced to lay off some staff after failing to secure new funding for its community-based programs, the Times reports. Life Force Executive Director Gwen Carter said the group is an important addition to the medical work being provided by larger institutions. Her group in recent days has been able to use grants to raise about one-third of the $193,000 in Ryan White funding that will run out by Friday. Carter said she also is exploring the possibility of joint fund raising with another health group experiencing similar budget constraints. "The role of a community-based organization is to get people to realize the need to get to those medical places; to get yourself tested and take care of yourself," she said, adding, "If we all work together, it will be more effective" (Gonzalez, New York Times, 3/27).