Florida: Funding Cuts Hit AIDS Programs; Despite an Increase in Cases, Housing Grants Are Reduced
Despite a jump in new HIV infections, federal housing grants for HIV/AIDS patients will be cut this year in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and will stay flat in Palm Beach County. Broward's grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will fall by $1.5 million, or 21 percent, and Miami-Dade's grant will fall by $2 million, or 15 percent, as of Oct. 1.
AIDS agency officials said the new funding levels will add many more names to the hundreds waiting for subsidized housing, raising the chances that infected people will become homeless.
At the end of 2001, Miami-Dade was second behind New York City in AIDS cases per 100,000 people. Broward was fifth, and Palm Beach was sixth. Last year, new HIV infections leaped by 44 percent in Palm Beach, 30 percent in Broward and 18 percent in Miami-Dade. In addition to housing cuts, the region's Ryan White grants are expected to remain flat this year.
Until now, South Florida had seen steady increases from HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, which has a budget rising 2 percent to $297 million. The HUD grants are based on the increase in new AIDS cases locally vs. nationally. The cuts resulted from a drop in new AIDS cases locally a year ago, partially because of strong medical care that kept HIV patients from progressing to AIDS, according to a HUD spokesperson who asked not to be named. New HIV infections are ignored in HOPWA's funding formula, so South Florida's increase in newly diagnosed patients does not bring more grant money.
A rent subsidy program for 700 Broward HIV patients and families may lose $1.2 million of its $3.5 million, although local HOPWA administrator Michael McGuigan said he will ask HUD and Fort Lauderdale to use $900,000 in leftover city HOPWA money for the vouchers. The nonprofit Broward House would lose about $150,000 and may have to leave 10-15 beds empty at a Deerfield Beach assisted living facility, Executive Director Michael Spatz said.