Chicago HOPWA Grant Announcement at Interfaith House


Thank you, Jennifer (Nelson). Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for coming. I am pleased to join Arturo Bendixen (of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago) and Dr. Terry Mason (Chicago’s Health Commissioner) for this important announcement

For more than two decades our nation has experienced the tragedy of HIV/AIDS infection. We have learned much about the biology and biomedicine behind AIDS. But more than that, we have witnessed the courage of those living with the disease. As a nation and a people, we have also learned much about ourselves.

Here in Chicago I have known colleagues and friends who confront HIV infection. It is a humbling experience to begin to understand the concerns confronting people with HIV/AIDS. But it is also an experience of triumph as many people now live long lives with the disease.

We know that HIV/AIDS is a devastating diagnosis, one that will change a life instantly, leading to complex drug therapies and vigorous treatments. Because there is no cure, treatment becomes a way of life, a part of life. There is a personal, psychological toll well beyond the medical, physical challenges. Many people feel lonely, isolated and forgotten. It is also an expensive disease to treat. Some people find it difficult to continue employment, even on a part-time basis. Insurance coverage may be severely limited, and paying rent may be a continual challenge.

Well, people with AIDS are not alone. There are many programs available and many, many people of goodwill who want to be there, ready to provide assistance and support. And I understand that some people in treatment already live on the margins, without savings or other financial means.

In the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) we have a program called “Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS,” or HOPWA. This program awards grants to local efforts that provide comprehensive care for people living with AIDS. As you can imagine, a stable home environment is vital for people managing complex drug therapies. Our program provides funding to maintain rental housing and other services for people with HIV/AIDS.

Today I am pleased to announce that HUD has awarded almost $1.4 million to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. AFC is the lead agency for the Chicago Housing and Health Partnership. With this grant, AFC will support individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families through 12 leased units and will also provide tenant-based rental assistance to 21 households, helping a total of 33 households over three years. Our funding will also support project-dedicated case managers at each housing agency. These managers will help bring intensive, highly individualized services to link people with HIV/AIDS to a comprehensive, holistic array of support services. This grant is a lifeline for those struggling to maintain shelter during therapy.

The grant today is to renew our efforts with AFC. Congress has set aside funding for such a purpose, continuing successful projects that provide stable housing to vulnerable households. Tomorrow I will announce a total of $19.5 million in HOPWA funding to 18 programs in various states and communities. These grants will provide additional funds to carry-on their current permanent housing efforts.

There are other HOPWA grants that are awarded by formula to our largest cities and states across the nation. So the $19.5 million I will announce tomorrow adds to a larger total. These grants are part of the record $300 million in available HOPWA funds nationwide this year. Overall this program will assist an estimated 67,000 households – with help to address pressing housing challenges and improve access to care.

And here in Illinois, today’s grant of $1.4 million is on top of $7 million in HOPWA grant funding to various projects in the city of Chicago and elsewhere in the State of Illinois. I know in this city our HOPWA partnership relies on the good work of the city’s Department of Health and your collaboration with many caring local nonprofit organizations.

I am pleased we could make this announcement at Interfaith House, one of our partners in this larger effort. I have just toured this transitional facility. It is a very impressive effort, a place of compassion, understanding, and care. I must compliment Jennifer and her staff for providing the high quality services so important to people in need. You are helping people restore health, rebuild lives, and return home.

Interfaith House symbolizes the faith we must have in ourselves and each other. We can only address HIV/AIDS as a community, as a family, if we are to be compassionate and caring. The effectiveness of our governmental programs relies on out cooperation and good will.

I know that Arturo and Dr. Mason want to say a few words. So let me just conclude by thanking all of you for coming and for your support of efforts to provide services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Thank you.


Content Archived: January 27, 2012