Based on the analysis of the national program data and CDC surveillance data, as many as 10 percent of the identified PLWHA in the United States and its territories are receiving some sort of housing assistance through RWP and/or HOPWA. Although there is no systematic way of assessing the extent of housing need among everyone with HIV/AIDS, it is clear from HUD’s CoC data that housing is a definite need for a subset of the HIV/AIDS population. The 2012 national homeless point-in-time count found that 3.9 percent of the homeless adults reported that they were living with HIV/AIDS. This is a much higher percentage than in the general population (less than 1 percent).
Because HOPWA and RWP serve different but complementary purposes, the proportions of funding they targeted toward housing assistance were very different. Whereas two-thirds (67 percent) of HOPWA’s funding was used for housing assistance, and 61,268 participants received housing assistance in 2010, 3.2 percent of RWP funding was used for housing assistance, and 18,904 participants received RWP-funded housing assistance that year. RWP’s primary focus is to provide HIV treatment and care, and grantees can spend only a portion of funds on support services (of which housing services is one type), whereas HOPWA’s focus is on providing housing assistance and related support services. Another key difference is that RWP assistance is targeted toward emergency and short-term housing, whereas HOPWA provides help with a range of short-term, long-term, and permanent housing.
In general, the characteristics of participants served were similar across the two programs. HOPWA participants (which include family members) tended to be younger, because HOPWA serves more families with children than RWP. Within both programs, the majority of participants served were within the lowest poverty category (at or below FPL for RWP and up to 30 percent of AMI for HOPWA). Because the two programs collect housing status at different points of enrollment (HOPWA collects it prior to program entry; RWP collects it as of last day of reporting period), it is impossible to compare housing status prior to program entry across the two programs. HOPWA reported that 13 percent of participants were homeless at program entry.
Although housing status was based on the end of the reporting period and not program exit, among RWP clients receiving housing assistance, about one quarter (24 percent) were temporarily or unstably housed, compared to 14 percent of RWP clients not receiving RWP-funded housing assistance. Note that RWP housing assistance is intended to be a short-term aid, not a long-term solution. However, the fact that 5 percent of the RWP clients receiving housing assistance were still unstably housed at the end of the reporting period emphasizes the importance of connecting RWP clients to long-term or permanent housing assistance through HOPWA, CoC, or other mainstream public housing programs.
HOPWA also collects client information about housing status at exit and reports it separately for different types of assistance. The percentage of participants exiting to homelessness was below 5 percent for all types of assistance except for short-term transitional facilities, which saw 20 percent exit to homelessness. This indicates that participants served with STRMU were much less likely to exit to homelessness compared to the short-term facilities.