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U.S. Senate to Consider Historic AIDS Housing Resolution

By Julie Turkewitz

May 5, 2011

The resolution could be a crucial tool in the fight for funds for AIDS housing.

The resolution could be a crucial tool in the fight for funds for AIDS housing.

Eleven senators are backing a resolution that recognizes the key role housing plays in preventing and treating AIDS.

The resolution, S. 162, was introduced Wednesday and is sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Its co-sponsors are Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Al Franken (D-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

The resolution's introduction is a small step toward a larger victory for those who view housing as a critical tool to fighting HIV/AIDS. A year ago, the House passed the same resolution.

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A document passed by both legislative houses would be "not just historic, but strategic," said Nancy Bernstine, executive director of the National AIDS Housing Coalition. Armed with a piece of paper stating that it is the will of both the House and the Senate to make housing a priority, advocates have additional credibility when they ask politicians to devote funds to AIDS housing.

The resolution "expresses the sense of the Senate that stable and affordable housing is an essential component of an effective strategy for the prevention, treatment, and care of human immunodeficiency virus, and that the United States should make a commitment to providing adequate funding for the development of housing as a response to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pandemic."

For years, studies have shown links between homelessness and HIV infection. According to the resolution, 70 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS report an experience of homelessness or housing instability during their lifetime.

The next step, Bernstine said, is for Menendez to gather additional co-sponsors. The bill will then go through the committee process -- and hopefully make it to the floor for a vote.

AIDS Housing Resolution




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