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Update on the Status of the Proposed HOPWA Formula Change

The Current HOPWA Formula

FY 2014 Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) formula grant awards were allocated using the same formula that has been statutorily required since the program was established in 1990. This formula was, based on two key factors:

  1. 75% of the formula is allocated based on cumulative AIDS cases, including those persons both living and deceased since the start of the epidemic in 1981; and
  2. 25% of the formula is based on AIDS incidence, or new AIDS cases per year along with population updates. Only the largest 30 metropolitan areas benefit from the AIDS incidence factor. Eligible States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are not eligible for this bonus funding.

Variations in HOPWA Formula Grant Amounts and Service Areas for FY 2014

Although the formula remains the same, many HOPWA formula communities experienced variations in their grant award amounts and service area boundaries for FY 2014. These variations were the result of two recent changes:

  1. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued updates to metropolitan statistical area geographic boundaries (Bulletin 13-01) that reconfigured the service areas of numerous existing HOPWA Eligible Metropolitan Statistical Areas (EMSAs); and
  2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently implemented updates to their method for processing data transmitted by state and local HIV health department surveillance programs. Every year, CDC provides HUD with the AIDS data set necessary to compute the formula grant awards. The agency implemented internal updates to their data verification and processing with the goal of improving overall national data quality and completeness. This resulted in changes to the HOPWA data set that impacted the allocations of some formula grantees for FY 2014.

HOPWA Modernization Legislative Proposal

The current HOPWA formula includes information on well over half a million Americans who have died, and does not reflect or use what the CDC refers to as the single best measure of the current geographic burden of the epidemic: the number of people currently living with an HIV diagnosis. When the HOPWA statute was enacted in 1990, less than 10 years had passed since the first case of AIDS had been reported in the United States, and only about five years had passed since the HIV virus had been isolated and identified by scientists. The HOPWA funding formula reflected the nature of early surveillance data available at that time.

Modernizing the HOPWA funding formula is a key pending HUD action item under President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The NHAS directs HUD to work with Congress to develop a plan to shift to HIV/AIDS case reporting as the basis for HOPWA formula funding. HUD commenced an extensive public consultation process in 2011 to solicit public input from grantees, stakeholders, and federal agency partners through a series of forums. The results of this collaboration greatly assisted HUD in developing the legislative proposal.

The Department’s FY 2015 HOPWA congressional budget justification includes a legislative proposal to change the formula and to expand the provision of short-term housing assistance. Congressional action is required prior to enactment of the proposal, as the HOPWA statute must be amended to enable the use of living HIV cases. This is due to the existing statutory language referring only to cumulative AIDS cases for purposes of providing formula grant awards. As such, the purpose of this notification to dispel any misunderstanding regarding the status of this legislative request since it remains a proposed action. In fact, the Department has previously submitted the legislative request in the FY 2013 and FY 2014 HOPWA budget requests without congressional action.

The proposed formula change would be based on living HIV cases, including those living with AIDS, and would serve as a baseline to better reflect the nature of the HIV epidemic, as well as aligning the distribution of HOPWA formula funding with other Federal HIV programs, notably the Ryan White CARE Act program which has already enacted living HIV cases. The existing 25% formula factor would be revised to adjust for local housing costs (Fair Market Rents) and community need (poverty rates). In addition, the legislative proposal also includes language that would expand short-term housing interventions to allow for more flexible time limits and for rapid re-housing of homeless persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The legislative proposal contains a stop-loss provision that would be phased in over a period of three years. As the new formula is phased in, grantees would not lose more than 10 percent or gain more than 20 percent of their share of the previous fiscal year’s formula funds.

Opportunity for Feedback

The Department welcomes questions and feedback on this ongoing effort to modernize the HOPWA formula to better reflect the current nature of the HIV epidemic. Please send any questions or comments to HOPWA@hud.gov.

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