2007 HOPWA Grant Announcement
PREPARED REMARKS FOR
ROY A. BERNARDI, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
CHARLESTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2007
Thank you, Representative (Shelly Moore) Capito. Good morning. It is a pleasure to come back to West Virginia and join you for this important announcement. I want to thank Governor (Joe) Manchin for coming. It is good to see you, Governor.
Ladies and gentlemen, the impact of AIDS on America has been powerful and profound. Over one million Americans are living with HIV, including thousands here in West Virginia. When we look back at how we faced today's challenges, I know we never forget that there were people offering hope and care throughout our nation. This includes many West Virginians, like Shelley Capito, who stepped forward to help confront the HIV/AIDS crisis. West Virginia and the entire country have been forever changed by the challenges associated with this disease. And, paradoxically, I believe the disease has allowed us to show that America is a compassionate, aware, and tolerant country.
And medically, there has been some remarkable progress. In our third decade of the crisis, we see some hopeful advances with better health and greater longevity. In the early 1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS was considered ultimately fatal. Now, thanks to advances in medicine and pharmacology, millions of Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, albeit still facing a chronic health challenge. As a testament to medial advances, many have lived with the disease for a decade or longer...some much longer. There is every reason to believe that our medical progress can continue.
We can all be thankful for that. HIV/AIDS does not have to be fatal; it can be treated.
But more is needed than new drugs or better treatments. Many Americans living with HIV/AIDS also need affordable and accessible housing. In fact, housing is essential. The disease disproportionately strikes the homeless, those with lower incomes and people in our minority communities. These Americans need our help.
Housing...a safe and stable home...is vital. Imagine trying to confront this disease while living on the streets, exposed to the elements with compromised health and immunity. It is also difficult while searching for affordable housing and worry about yesterday's bills let alone tomorrows. And imagine the strain on body and mind if that search is unsuccessful, or if you stand on the brink of losing the housing you have found.
But you can also imagine the relief and related physical and psychological benefits if housing is not a constant worry. We know that having a stable home can make a large difference in remaining healthy, or even for accessing care along with peace of mind - allowing residents to address difficult challenges with dignity and hope.
So, since 1992, one of our Nation's responses has been a federal program called "Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS," or HOPWA. More than $3.5 billion has been distributed under this targeted HUD program. HOPWA grants go to local communities, states, and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income Americans medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and to their families. The grants provide permanent supportive housing for Americans with HIV/AIDS.
This year my department is distributing $286 million under this program - mostly to the largest 120 cities and states by formula. This includes $32 million in awards made by competition. HUD is selecting 31 model and well managed projects to help 21 states assist HOPWA households.
One of those states is West Virginia. Today, I am pleased to announce a grant of almost $1 million to help provide housing for West Virginians confronting HIV/AIDS. This is the renewal of an earlier grant awarded by HUD to the state in 2004. To recognize the good work already done and good plans moving forward, the award will come to the State of West Virginia Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity. This funding will continue to provide the following over the next three years:
- 9 units of facility based housing,
- 140 households with tenant-based rental assistance,
- 245 households with short-term mortgage and utility assistance,
- 415 households with supportive services, and
- 40 households with permanent housing placement.
For each of these qualifying households, the funding will help provide safe, healthy, and supportive housing. For each person who receives this money, it is one less worry and one more way to combat the disease.
This funding will enable the state to work in partnership with the West Virginia Coalition for People with HIV/AIDS, Covenant House in Charleston, Cartias House in Morgantown, and Community Networks in Martinsburg. That is one of the great advantages of HOPWA grants. They encourage and reward such partnerships.
This grant is in addition to another HOPWA grant of more than $1.4 million for long-term supportive housing services. That grant was awarded in 2005.
I hope we can announce further grants in the future. For the coming fiscal year, President Bush has asked for a record $300 million for HOPWA, which would be an increase of $14 million over current funding levels. This would allow us to reach more than 70,000 households annually.
Representative Capito has been a tireless supporter of this program. That's one reason why I wanted to come here today.
I thank her for her tireless efforts on behalf of West Virginia and the nation. In particular, I wanted to thank her for her work to reauthorize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, to encourage housing counseling, to provide housing for older West Virginians and people with disabilities, and her efforts to secure housing choice vouchers under Section 8 of the Family Self Sufficiency Program.
She has also been a leading advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. I know she has been anxious to secure this grant.
Representative Capito, as I was growing up, my Italian father used to say, "Più che le parole persuadano gli esempi." It sounds good in Italian, doesn't it?
Translation: "Actions speak louder than words."
It has been said another way: "Show me the money!"
So, let me translate my own words into action by presenting the State of West Virginia with this check.
Congratulations. Again, thank you for inviting me to join you.