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Funds for Austin AIDS Patients Up One Day, Down the Next

A financial shot in the arm is coming for people living with AIDS in Austin. As much as $5 million in federal funding is on the way, spread out over five years. But the federal funding comes as local AIDS assistance groups wrangle with funding cuts of their own. 

The announcement came at a city council meeting yesterday. The grant funds come from federal awards called Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, funds. For Austin that means about $1 million each year for two Austin non-profits, AIDS Services of Austin and Project Transitions. The money is intended to help people with HIV and AIDS with housing need – short-term rent and mortgage assistance, help with utilities and other related expenses. 

According to Josh Allen, executive director of Project Transitions, housing is an area of incredible need for Austin. “As quickly as we can move someone into housing, there are two other folks on the waiting list.”

This grant money comes at a time when Project Transitions is struggling to fill a $45,000 gap left by reduced funding from the United Way. In July, the United Way for Greater Austin eliminated $1.2 million in grants to local nonprofits. “We’re seeing it across the board generally with fund raising efforts,” says Allen. “Specifically, with grants and foundations. It’s just a much more competitive environment.”

AIDS Services of Austin also lost United Way funding this year - $55,000.

“We have to make additional funds to continue our services,” says AIDS Services spokesperson Marcus Sanchez, “But then also cover that loss we experienced.”

With the AIDS Walk of Austin approaching next weekend, the group is scrambling to meet their fund raising goal of $195,000. Currently, they’ve raised $95,000. With little over a week left, there isn’t much time to raise the remaining $100,000, but Sanchez says they do most of their fundraising on deadline. On Wednesday, Whole Foods Market matched the group’s $5,000 in contributions for a total of $10,000.

Josh Allen adds that these and other programs may see reduced funding next year, as the federal housing program for those with HIV/AIDS is likely to see reduced funding next year – an 8.2 percent cut, or $27 million.     

It is estimated that around 5,000 people in the Austin area are living with HIV/AIDS, and that about a thousand aren’t aware they are infected.

The AIDS Walk Austin is Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. 

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