July 13, 2010
Washington, D.C. -- The National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) is encouraged by today's release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). NAHC member organizations and supporters were among the hundreds from across the country who elevated housing as a critical need in community focus groups conducted by the Office of National AIDS Policy the past 15 months.
Housing is prominently featured in the goal of "Increasing Access to Care and Improving Health Outcomes." Step 3 of this goal is: "Support people living with HIV with co-occurring health conditions and those who have challenges meeting their basic needs, such as housing." The anticipated result of Step 3 is that by 2015 the percentage of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients with permanent housing will increase from 82 percent to 86 percent (from 434,000 to 455,800 people). This serves as a measurable proxy of efforts to expand access to HUD and other housing supports to all needy people living with HIV (page 23 of the Strategy).
The Strategy also directs HUD to "work with Congress to develop a plan (including seeking statutory changes if necessary) to shift to HIV/AIDS case reporting as a basis for formula grants for HOPWA funding" in order to increase coordination among federal agencies under the goal of "Achieving a More Coordinated National Response to the HIV Epidemic" (page 27 of the Implementation Plan).
The Strategy cites evidence featured in the Housing & HIV/AIDS Research Summit Series and refers to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness' new federal plan as a point of collaboration between housing and health agencies: "Access to housing is an important precursor to getting many people into a stable treatment regimen. Individuals living with HIV who lack stable housing are more likely to delay HIV care, have poorer access to regular care, are less likely to receive optimal antiretroviral therapy, and are less likely to adhere to therapy. A large-scale study from 2007 comparing the health of homeless and stably housed people living with HIV found that housing status was more significant than individual characteristics as a predictor of health care access and outcomes. A long-term study of people living with HIV in New York City found that over a 12-year period, receipt of housing assistance was one of the strongest predictors of accessing HIV primary care, maintaining continuous care, receiving care that meets clinical practice standards, and entry into HIV care. Receipt of housing assistance had a direct impact on improved medical care, regardless of demographics, drug use, health and mental health status, or receipt of other services. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness focuses efforts to reduce homelessness and increase housing security. Planning efforts will be undertaken in collaboration with community partners to address the housing needs of vulnerable Americans who are in homeless situations or present risks of homelessness" (page 28 of the Strategy).
"Housing is essential to the ability of people with HIV/AIDS to enter into and remain in care and to preventing the spread of the virus," said NAHC Executive Director Nancy Bernstine. "PWAs and AIDS housing and healthcare providers are guardedly optimistic that the NHAS not only acknowledges this critical need but offers solutions for identifying and expanding housing options and ending homelessness and housing instability for folks coping with the debilitating and impoverishing affects of HIV/AIDS."
NAHC encourages its partners to read The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Implementation Plan, and the President's Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Agencies and Departments for more information.