X

Atlanta OKs emergency funding for AIDS/HIV housing to avert crisis

An unidentified woman gets her finger pricked for a HIV test recently in Atlanta. Contributed
An unidentified woman gets her finger pricked for a HIV test recently in Atlanta. Contributed

Atlanta’s City Council agreed to advance $1.5 million in emergency funding Monday to ease a crisis that may cost low-income patients living with AIDS and HIV their homes.

The legislation, which passed without objection or comment from council members, is meant to pay for housing and other services to keep clients of longtime city contractor Living Room from becoming homeless. The nonprofit said it could no longer afford to pay rent for some 250 clients in the city-run Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program because the city made payments months late.

The nonprofit filed suit against the city in July, saying it withheld payments as retaliation for Executive Director Jerome Brooks spurning the romantic and sexual advances of the city department head who oversaw the federally funded program. The city said it was holding up payment because the nonprofit of provided shoddy services and managed funds poorly.

The city ended the Living Room’s contract July 3.

The new funding divvies up money the Living Room would have received and pays it to seven other contractors. These agencies are supposed to fill in the gaps that Living Room left behind.

Problems with the federally-funded program, which subsidizes housing for those with HIV and AIDS, have persisted for years. The city of Atlanta has failed to spend as much as $41 million meant to house people with AIDS and HIV since 2014, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development figures, even as contractors complained of late payments and poor management.

The problems have made it difficult for agencies in the program to provide housing.

The unspent grant funding amounts to about 40% of the $101 million allotted by the federal government to the city-run Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program since about 2014, city figures show.