$334M allocated toward low-cost housing assistance
AIDS Alabama has benefited from a volunteer effort from Auburn University's architectural school, which built two "green" structures for the nonprofit, one using hay in the walls for insulation and another that used railroad cars. Recently, another local nonprofit rehabbed a number of homes that had been in foreclosure and gave three to AIDS Alabama.
Similarly, Clare Housing in Minneapolis has strung together a number of projects to house people with HIV/AIDS. Currently, the organization operates six adult foster care homes, a 32-unit supportive housing development, and 20 units of scattered-site housing.
HOPWA funds were used to develop two Clare Housing structures, including the 32-unit supportive housing building, said Lee Lewis, Chare Housing's executive director.
"These buildings didn't exist before the HOPWA grants," Lewis said. "You usually have to pull together a half dozen to a dozen different funding sources. Both these projects have HOPWA dollars and low-income housing credits."
The HOPWA funds, which can be substantial -- the three-year HOPWA grant for Clare Housing's supportive housing totaled $850,000 -- often act as a catalyst for other funding.
"In each instance when we got the HOPWA award, it got the attention of all the other local fund sources, city, state and county," Lewis said. "It's unusual for federal money to come into a project, so after we got the HOPWA award, the other fund sources got together and figured out how to get the package together and over the goal line."
When people move into Clare Housing homes, Lee said, "their viral loads go down; their CD4 counts go down; they become less likely to transmit the disease; and they have access to medical care."
Nonprofits like Clare Housing and AIDS Alabama have been very aggressive in acquiring and building housing, as well as supplying rental assistance, but it's never enough.
As Marquez said, "We have over 1 million people in the country with AIDS and we estimate there are 125,000 households that have unmet housing needs of people living with HIV. With 56,000 new HIV cases annually, the need continues to grow."
Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on Amazon.com.
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