New Orleans's receipt of federal HIV/AIDS housing funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been delayed, causing as many as 1,000 low-income HIV-positive people in the area to fall short on paying mortgages, bills, and rent, The [New Orleans] Times-Picayune reports. HUD's Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program reimburses local agencies for providing housing funding or services to people living with HIV/AIDS. But the New Orleans officials who disburse the federal funds haven't received authorization to spend money for the program because Congress passed the HOPWA funding bill only last month.
"Utilities are being turned off, and people are getting eviction notices," said Lois Falk, a housing counselor for Associated Catholic Charities.
The region also is set to receive 16% less in federal funds in 2003 than last year. Health officials say that HOPWA funds are distributed only by looking at the total number of AIDS cases in the region. While New Orleans has more people living with HIV in 2003 than last year, the fact that many do not progress to an AIDS diagnosis due to successful antiretroviral treatments has actually reduced the number of AIDS cases in the region. "It's a dual-edged sword," said Ellen Lee, who heads the city's AIDS funding commission.