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D.C. Mayor's Proposed Budget Leaves Very Little for People With HIV

By Candace Y.A. Montague

April 21, 2011

Cuts in the budget will affect people with HIV. Photo:

Cuts in the budget will affect people with HIV. Photo:

On Monday, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute published its report on Mayor Gray's proposed budget for FY 2012. The budget shows that many of the cuts that were made a few years ago will stay in place and deepen in some areas where people with HIV are most dependent. According to Defeat Poverty D.C., one out of every three (33%) of the District's residents lives in poverty. These residents are highly concentrated in Wards 7 & 8. Moreover, these are also the Wards where the highest number of HIV infections rates are as well as the highest percentage of unemployment. Mayor Gray has not only asked to make cuts to programs designed to help impoverished citizens but his proposal also suggests cutting housing assistance for these residents as well.

The DCFPI report shows three significant areas that will affect people with HIV:

  • Human Services and Health -- the Department of Human Services budget will decrease by $17 million dollars. This department handles homeless services, emergency rental assistance, and services for families who have participate in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Families on TANF will see their benefits cut to $257 a month for a family of three. Wouldn't sufficient job training and placement help families come off of TANF?
  • The Department of Healthcare Finance -- this department would cut the Healthcare Alliance Program by $11 million. The Healthcare Alliance Program provides medical coverage for people who are underinsured and not insured by Medicaid. They will remove 5,000 people from their caseloads by either moving them to Medicaid or by finding them ineligible for benefits. Hopefully Health Care Reform will kick in and qualify more people for Medicaid but that is not set to begin until 2014. What will citizens who are kicked out Medicaid do during that two year period?
  • Affordable housing -- funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund will be reduced by $18 million. This is the fund that finances affordable housing construction and renovation. Also, the housing voucher program for low-income residents will begin to phase out by not issuing new vouchers when families leave the program. Housing has been repeatedly proven to reduce HIV infection rates. Candidate Gray once told this Examiner while he was running for mayor that he would increase the funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund.

Keeping an HIV positive person healthy lowers their viral loads and makes the virus less likely to spread (though it's still quite possible). Being healthy includes adhering to medications and seeing a doctor regularly. However, if they are homeless, struggling to pay their bills or lack adequate health insurance, medication adherence and doctors visits will almost assuredly fall by the wayside. Surely there must be some other way to generate revenue for the city without taking 67% of the funding away from human services and other low-income services. This debate, unlike this article, is far from over.

To see DCFPI's report in full, click here.

Recommended Reading

AIDS Vote 2010: Vince Gray part 1

Health Care Reform is a good start for AIDS

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News About HIV/AIDS Support & Care in Washington, D.C.

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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC and emPower News Magazine.

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