A new report by New York City's Center for an Urban Future shows that funding delays and red tape have led to staff cutbacks and disruptions at HIV/AIDS organizations that have had a negative impact on the city's HIV-positive residents, Newsday reports. The research group surveyed more than 60 service providers, government and private funding sources, health experts, and consultants, and found that while community groups receive about $300 million annually to provide HIV/AIDS services, disbursement of the funds is routinely delayed by three months to a year. The report, titled "Epidemic Neglect: How Weak Infrastructure and Lax Planning Hinder New York City's Response to AIDS," also states that the city health department was late in paying 97% of its 2001 contracts, forcing some agencies to lay off staff members and curtail services while waiting for needed funds to arrive.
"Executive directors [of AIDS service organizations] are distracted chasing checks or doing the work of absent administrators," said Julie Hantman, a senior fellow for AIDS research at the Center for an Urban Future. "Some AIDS housing money sits unused because the contracts are so onerous, nobody has the staff to process them. So there's waste, there's stagnancy, and things will likely get worse unless there's some fix not only for the infrastructure, but for citywide planning also."
The report recommends that city officials work to solve the contract delay problem, establish citywide planning efforts, and streamline the grant application process to help ease the funding delays. AIDS services organizations also are encouraged to streamline their services and seek additional sources of private funding.