Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would update and improve the outdated formula used to distribute funding for crucial housing programs that serve people with HIV/AIDS. Senators Collins and Reed serve as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), which oversees spending for federal housing programs. A similar measure is being sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen David Price (D-NC) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL).
The Collins-Reed bill would adjust the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to allocate formula funding based on the number of persons currently living with HIV instead of the cumulative number of AIDS cases since 1981. At present, 55 percent of the cumulative AIDS cases used to process the formula represent deceased individuals, which diverts funding away from parts of the country where the HIV/AIDS prevalence is more recent and unfairly distributes it to large cities that experienced the AIDS epidemic early on.
“The HOPWA Program is vital to ensuring that individuals living with HIV/AIDS, who have an elevated risk of becoming homeless, are able to access safe and affordable housing,” said Senator Collins. “The current method for distributing HOPWA Program funds is unfair to the regions of our country where individuals are feeling the effects of HIV/AIDS most acutely. Revising this outdated formula will allow these funds to benefit low-income individuals living with this illness and their families, precisely the population this program is intended to help.”