December 18, 2006
Under a proposal published in the Federal Register on Dec. 6, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) would cap the cumulative lifetime use of Ryan White CARE funds for short-term and emergency housing at 24 months. The public can make comments about the proposal through Feb. 5. If enacted, the rule would take effect March 1, 2007.
In San Francisco, nearly 500 subsidized residents with HIV/AIDS would lose the assistance by March 2009. Advocates say some patients in the city, where housing is expensive and limited, would face a dire situation.
A HRSA audit several years ago criticized the extended use of housing subsidies and encouraged the agency to cap their use. In San Francisco, many of the 491 people in subsidized units have been receiving the assistance for a decade or more. Annually, housing accounts for $3.5 million in local CARE Act funds.
Proponents of the cap claim the purpose of Ryan White is to improve access to medical care. AIDS advocates say housing is integral to that access, reducing total care costs.
The city's Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Housing Work Group is searching for city-based solutions, said Brian Basinger, a group member and AIDS Housing Alliance founder. Dana Van Gorder, San Francisco AIDS Foundation's director of state and local affairs, said Congress might also be approached for a solution, such as increasing funds to Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS.