Housing is a critical component of health, particularly for those with HIV/AIDS. HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program recognizes the stabilizing role of housing as a platform to receive healthcare and services to help manage HIV and AIDS. Through this program and other resources, faith and community organizations can assist those living with HIV/AIDS to obtain housing, social services, and other resources to help them maintain quality of life with HIV/AIDS.
Background: Combatting the Impact of HIV/AIDS
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated a link between access to safe, stable housing and access to medical care for HIV/AIDS. Currently, more than 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, and there are approximately 50,000 new infections per year.
Housing is a critical component of care for those living with the disease. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness notes that “stable, supportive housing is a cornerstone of HIV/AIDS treatment,” and people experiencing homelessness are 16 times more likely to contract HIV. Similarly, “Opening Doors”, the Federal Strategy to Prevent and End Homelessness, recognizes that housing is a key structural intervention for individuals living with HIV/AIDS to improve health outcomes and reduce risk behaviors. This is especially important because it is estimated that 50% of individuals diagnosed with HIV will experience housing instability in their lifetime.
How Can Faith and Community Organizations Be Involved?
There are many ways faith and community organizations can be involved helping persons with HIV/AIDS find and maintain housing. Grant opportunities are announced through the HOPWA website at www.hudexchange.info/programs/hopwa and at Grants.gov. You can also connect with HOPWA grantees in your area by searching the HOPWA grantee locator.
Because HOPWA funds cannot be used for small appliances, hygiene products, and other items to help new residents feel settled, faith and community organizations can play a significant role in helping to provide these items. Just as important, faith and community organizations can offer emotional and social support to new residents: invite them into your faith community or community meetings to help them transition into new routines.
By searching for and connecting with HOPWA grantees in your community, you can help publicize resources and participate in national HIV awareness days to educate your community about HIV. Help spread the word and encourage people to find out their HIV status and connect to lifesaving resources—you can’t know your HIV status unless you get tested. Each month has different themes for HIV awareness days so you can set up an HIV awareness day that connects with your congregation members or clients. You can also connect to HOPWA’s e-mail list or follow HOPWA on Twitter at @HUD_HOPWA.
Finally, HUD Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP) serves as a resource center for faith and community organizations seeking to learn more about HUD programs. HUD CFBNP stands ready to help faith-based and community organizations, individuals, and others find more information about HUD’s programs and answers to questions. For assistance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-708-2404.
HOPWA program fact sheets and a short video can be found on our website. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 is a plan released by President Obama calling for a national response to reduce incidence of HIV, increase access to care and positive health outcomes, and reduce health disparities.
Joshua L. Bancroft is a Program Specialist at HUD’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships.