Dozens of families in South Florida are in danger of losing their homes or apartments or having their utilities stopped because the city of Miami allegedly misdirected federal AIDS housing funds to HIV prevention programs, the Miami Herald reports. The city also may award $3.3 million in new federal contracts for 2003 without a bidding process to the same agencies, further hampering housing efforts next year. Earlier this year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development ordered the city to repay more than $500,000 in housing funds that went to three agencies providing AIDS prevention and education. The same agencies are up for approval in 2003. The city also was forced this fall to suspend its utility and mortgage payment programs because it failed to follow fund disbursement guidelines. About 60 Miami-area families affected by AIDS were notified this month that they would not get assistance in paying their mortgages, rents, and utility bills.
AIDS activists in the city are calling on city commissioners to reject the 2003 contracts with the service groups in question and order city officials to draw up a new housing plan for people with HIV. They also called on city leaders to immediately establish emergency programs to guarantee that HIV-positive people in Miami who were slated to receive housing and utility assistance do lot lose their homes or apartments this winter.