In 2016, Congress passed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) and modernized the way that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, the only Federal program dedicated to the housing and services needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to this law, HOPWA funding was allocated based on cumulative HIV/AIDS cases as reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This resulted in funds being centralized in the original urban communities that were devastated by the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990’s and did not account for the considerable changes in medical care or trends that have emerged in the past quarter century.
Instead of looking at total cases, HOTMA changed the funding calculations to factors such as cases of people living with HIV/AIDS. This means that many grantees will see increases or decreases in funding as the new formula is phased in through 2020, presenting challenges to HOPWA grantees. Formula grantees, such as state and local governments, will need to be thoughtful and strategic in planning how HOPWA funding will be used going forward, based on these changes. As part of a national HUD technical assistance initiative, Cloudburst is currently working with thirteen HOPWA formula grantees as they adapt to HOPWA Modernization changes.
Cloudburst’s work has included the development of a Financial Modeling and Budgeting Tool for use by all grantees to help them understand cost drivers for HOPWA-funded activities, the scope in context of community needs for people living with HIV/AIDS, and to forecast funding increases or decreases over time. We have also developed, presented, and participated in a series of national webinars, including presenting to grantees the ways in which they can collaborate with funding sources, such as Ryan White, Continuum of Care funded programs, as well other mainstream service and housing programs, to offset and enhance services provided to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Cloudburst has been working with 13 assigned HOPWA communities to tailor plans in response to funding changes. For Memphis, we developed a training on allowable direct and indirect costs and cost allocation plans to increase their knowledge and capacity to identify and accurately approve costs charged to HOPWA grants. In Atlanta, we’re creating HOPWA Modernization educational tools for the grantee to use as part of their community-wide planning and engagement with project sponsors and people living with HIV/AIDS. In Baltimore, we used the Cloudburst developed Financial Modeling and Budgeting Tool and provided hands-on guidance to assist the grantee in planning for activity specific budgets and funding allocations. In building out these plans, Cloudburst understands that every HOPWA community’s needs are different and has focused on developing implementation strategies that address these unique needs for greater success.
Written by Heather Rhoda, a Senior Analyst in the Housing and Community Development practice area. Ms. Rhoda provides technical assistance and support to communities across the country assisting with HUD Special Needs Assistance Programs. She possesses significant experience with HUD’s HOPWA Program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Continuum of Care funded programs, affordable housing property management and providing direct service to individuals with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness.