Tampa Bay Online External Web Site Policy, (07.07.2013)
Aids Weekly Plus
With the help of the federal government, an individual has managed to live with HIV for the past 16 years by using Social Security disability insurance. In doing so, however, he lost his job as a registered nurse. The 21-year-old federal Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program has helped to pay 70 percent of his rent at Francis House, a 23-year-old AIDS charity. Cuts to HOPWA, however, will cause Tampa residents, like this man, to live with less in 2014; the city will lose almost $400,000 from this housing allocation in the next year, which is approximately 12 percent of the $3.2 million it received in 2013. The loss will affect Catholic Charities, Francis House, and other organizations that help people living with AIDS. Francis House Director Joy Winheim noted, “We've had cuts every one of the eight years I've been here."
US Department of Housing and Urban Development Spokesperson Brian Sullivan explained that budget cuts known as sequestration caused the reduction. In addition, HOPWA added three new cities to the program, which meant that existing funds had to stretch further. The cuts will greatly affect Francis House, which gets approximately 33 percent of its $800,000 budget from HOPWA.
Catholic Charities’ HIV/AIDS Program Manager Tomi Steinruck stated that she has reduced administrative costs to better concentrate on her 280 clients. She was not sure how long she could continue to do that with these funding losses, however. Both Steinruck and Winheim stressed that private fundraising was difficult, because even though HIV first appeared 30 years ago, many still stigmatized it.
Winheim said that Francis House was expanding its crowded office by adding a two-story counseling center. The expansion project received federal support during the past three years, and Francis House raised money on its own. However, they were still $200,000 short of paying for the project and feared It would become even more difficult to reach its goal, as the Tampa Housing Authority planned to reduce 400 Section 8 housing vouchers from its program to match cuts in its federal support. The housing authority set aside approximately 70 of those vouchers each year for people with HIV/AIDS.