September 14, 2007
Even if you know the importance of housing as a crucial part of HIV/AIDS prevention and health care, your elected officials might not. Now advocates who need to demonstrate that AIDS housing is an essential part of prevention and health care can get all the facts and figures in one place: the National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) Policy Tool Kit.
With this online guide, advocates can become insta-experts on the importance of housing for PLWHA. "Across the country, advocates have been looking for ways to get the message across about the importance of housing to policy makers across the country," said Nancy Bernstine, NAHC executive director. "Now we have all the research tied together in a user-friendly format."
Advocates and activists in every city and town probably won't be able to bring in the experts to address their their representatives directly like New Yorkers had the opportunity to do last week. But the NAHC tool kit has all the necessary ingredients for a top-notch policy briefing that could convince policy makers to devote new resources to housing assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The tool kit includes policy papers, fact sheets summarizing recent research, a sample letter to send to elected or appointed officials, as well as a ready-made Power Point presentation along with presenters' notes. Think you'll get caught off-guard with a question? The tool kit includes answers to frequently asked questions you'll encounter such as "Isn't housing too expensive?" and "Can't PLWHA use existing low-income housing resources?" The guide explains how activists and advocates can use the toolkit to educate decision-makers, and inform locate planning processes, such as Ryan White CARE Act committees.
Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works, one of 12 organizations that have endorsed the tool kit so far, praised the guide as a resource for allowing people the courage to talk about housing for PLWHA. "Whether it is writing a letter to the editor or questioning a political candidate, this package allows anyone to have an effective voice," King said.
Ernest Hopkins, NAHC board member and director of federal affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (which provided NAHC a grant to create the tool kit) has high hopes for the new resource. Hopkins sees providing science-based evidence to show the link of housing to health care the wave of the future for AIDS advocates. He noted that while telling personal stories is important and compelling, it's also crucial to give decision-makers the cold, hard facts (and the bottom line on how it will affect the budget allocations). "The data is less refutable than anecdotal evidence," Hopkins said. "We want to make sure the tool kit gets out to every corner of the land."