Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
2019 Program Design
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
The City of New Orleans is implementing changes to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) grant administered by the Office of Community Development (OCD). The planned changes are intended to better reflect the current needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the New Orleans area and to be responsive to an expected downturn in HOPWA funding based on the implementation of HOPWA Modernization.
Currently, more than 62% of the City’s formula HOPWA funds are utilized to support operating costs for transitional housing (communal living) facilities, with smaller amounts allocated to Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Short-Term Rent Mortgage & Utility Assistance, Permanent Housing Placement and Housing Information. The City has determined, based on local data and with input from the community and from HUD, that permanent housing activities with associated support services should assume a higher priority for funding in the future versus transitional congregate housing. This shift towards increased permanent housing activities is intended to better meet the housing needs of low-income HOPWA-eligible households, which currently face many barriers to accessing and maintaining permanent affordable housing.
In addition to aligning HOPWA-funded activities with the current local needs, the City is implementing these changes in anticipation of reduced funding expected with the passing of the Housing Opportunity through the Modernization Act (HOTMA), Public Law 114-201, July, 2016. In the past, the grant was awarded to the City as a formula grant that was based on the cumulative AIDS cases. This formula counted deceased individuals as well as those living with HIV/AIDS. The new formula requires that 25% of the funds be distributed on the current population living with HIV or AIDS, local fair market rents, and the poverty rate of the State in order to target areas with the greatest need. This change will be phased in over a five-year period. The projections for FY 18 – FY 22 indicate that New Orleans will see a significant decrease in HOPWA funds over the next five years as a result of the formula modernization. This anticipated funding reduction further supports the need to target and prioritize HOPWA funds to the activities most needed by persons living with HIV/AIDS.
PROGRAM DESIGN OVERVIEW:
The following is a brief synopsis of the HOPWA program elements that will be implemented beginning July 1, 2019. Information is provided on each HOPWA activity, including the intent to increase or decrease funding for that activity. The initial funding goals for each activity will be based on the total amount of funding that is available for HOPWA activities; these percentages are intended to demonstrate the relative funding amounts that are expected to be allocated across activities and should not be interpreted as fixed amounts.
Facility-based housing, specifically transitional, congregate-style housing, does not address the current needs of the majority of the target population. HOPWA-funded facilities of this type in the City utilize a model designed to address high medical needs, but the majority of persons housed do not demonstrate that need. Further, the cost per unit for these facilities is extremely high and far above national averages. Some transitional housing may still be needed, but the level of funding will be reduced. Currently funded transitional housing facilities should reassess their design and work to decrease cost per unit while reducing barriers to independence and utilizing Housing First and Harm Reduction approaches. Other facility-based housing such as short-term supported housing or permanent housing will be considered. Initial funding goal: approximately 25-30% of available funding targeted for facility-based housing.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA)
TBRA has been implemented in New Orleans on a limited basis. TBRA represents a key permanent housing activity that is designed to quickly move households into stable, affordable housing. This rental assistance activity, together with supportive services designed to support the stability of participating households, will be given a high priority for funding. The level of funding for TBRA will be increased beginning in 2019 and it is anticipated to increase further in subsequent years to the extent possible. In the event that reductions in funding for existing transitional housing results in loss of housing to persons living with HIV/AIDS, these persons will be prioritized to receive TBRA in order to avoid homelessness. Initial funding goal: approximately 25-30% of available funding targeted for TBRA.
Permanent Housing Placement (PHP)
PHP has been implemented in New Orleans to support move-in costs for TBRA recipients and for other HOPWA-eligible households moving into other, non-HOPWA funded housing. This HOPWA activity helps ensure access to stable, affordable housing. The funding level of PHP services should increase as TBRA funding increases and is considered a high priority for funding. Initial funding goal: approximately 4-8% of available funding targeted for PHP.
Short-Term Rent, Mortgage and Utility (STRMU)
STRMU is designed to assist HOPWA households that experience financial difficulty and are threatened by eviction or extreme housing instability. This emergency assistance activity is intended to help households avoid homelessness and instability. It is the only HOPWA activity that assists both renters and home owners. The funding level for STRMU should remain at least level and will be increased as possible. STRMU assistance should be closely coordinated with Ryan White housing assistance to assure that the emergency assistance needs of PLWHA are being met in the most effective way. Initial funding goal: approximately 4-8% of available funding targeted for STRMU.
Supportive Services have not been directly funded through HOPWA by the City in the past. As the new HOPWA system design is implemented with an increased focus on permanent housing, the City has determined that HOPWA Supportive Services will be funded to assure the successful operation of housing activities. Funding for supportive services will include housing-focused case management as the highest priority, to assist clients in accessing, entering and remaining stable in permanent housing. Other supportive services may include activities that support client independence, address mental health and substance abuse issues, and other activities designed to meet the identified needs of the client population. Initial funding goal: approximately 10-20% of available funding targeted for Supportive Services.
Housing Information Services & Resource ID
Housing Information Services are currently funded through HOPWA. These services are designed to help persons living with HIV/AIDS to identify, locate and acquire housing, including counseling on managing budgets, working with landlords and addressing issues of fair housing and discrimination. The level of funding for this activity should remain at least consistent with current levels and will be increased as possible, especially in connection to TBRA services.
Resource ID is not currently funded through HOPWA but has been at some times in the past. This activity is designed to address system level needs, including but not limited to development of housing assistance resources in the community, coordination and leveraging of other housing resources, community needs assessments, and other collaborative efforts to increase resources for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Resource ID may be funded based on the extent to which the proposed activity will benefit the system and increase community resources.
Initial funding goal: approximately 5-10% of available funding targeted for Housing Information Services and Resource ID, combined.
TIMING FOR IMPLEMENTATION:
July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
The realignment of funding activities through the HOPWA program is expected to result in the following:
• An increased number of HOPWA-eligible households will be living in stable, permanent housing by December 31, 2019;
• Any clients potentially displaced by a reduction in transitional facility beds will be housed as priority households through TBRA;
• Provision of supportive services will result in increased placement of clients in permanent housing and increased stability of client continuing in housing;
• The use of Housing First and Harm Reduction methods will result in lower barriers to independence for clients in transitional and permanent housing.