This was disturbing news that broke last Friday quietly while no one was watching. The White House released the OMB Sequestration report, which details what automatic cuts will be made to programs across the board. These automatic cuts, known as the Sequestration Cuts, will have devastating effects on the homeless and people living with HIV/AIDS, as HOPWA and Medicaid are among the programs slated to receive a huge gash in funding.
According to page 98 of the very official and incredibly dense report, HOPWA is slated to lose 8.2% of its funding, or $27 million should the sequestration take place. In very real terms, since HUD calculated that for every $1 million of funding, 192 households are served, the sequester would mean the loss of housing assistance to 5,184 households. In addition, outside of HOPWA reductions, according to calculations from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “More than 185,000 households would lose their tenant-based rental assistance vouchers, 92,400 households would lose their project-based rental assistance housing, and 145,900 people would be remain homeless, instead of being housed under the Homeless Assistance Grant program. In addition, more than 140,000 currently housed households that include an elderly person or a person with a disability would receive reduced unit maintenance and lower levels of supportive services in units funded by Section 202 Housing for the Elderly or Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities.”
Congress still has time to agree on a budget deal and find ways to find 1.2 TRILLION over the next ten years. This news is especially troubling, as Medicaid’s recent reconfiguration under the Affordable Care Act could drastically improve health care services and access for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Last year, the President and the Congressional Republicans failed to reach a budget deal, which resulted in a political ruckus and a downgrading of the country’s credit rating across the world. This started a chain of events that is now leading to a new problem. The infamous Budget Super Committee was formed of 6 House of Representatives and 6 Senators, as well as 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans. After fighting for 4 months, the Super Committee failed to reach an agreement. Within this failure are the automatic cuts to HOPWA as well as Medicare that will adversely further disenfranchise people living with HIV/AIDS. Roofs over peoples heads are now at stake here due to the ineffectiveness of our Government. What to do? put pressure on our politicians and leaders to address HIV/AIDS and let them know how these funding streams—Medicaid and HOPWA—can mean the difference between life and death for people. Its up to us now before its too late.