Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

D.C. AIDS Funding Faces Cuts

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that it would cut $12.2 million in federal funding from its Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS program next year if problems stemming from money mismanagement are not fixed.

ercedes Márquez (LAW ’85), assistant secretary for community planning and development at HUD, sent a letter to HUD last week stating that no new AIDS housing funding will be awarded unless the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA) improves its tracking of service and spending.

HAHSTA paid more than $25 million to nonprofit groups that delivered substandard care or failed to account for their work, according to [an article published by The Washington Post on Nov. 12](

The department’s organizational problems include incomplete or non-standardized methods for tracking grant funding, lack of standard training and consistent processes for grant staff, and poorly defined and irregularly measured goals for grant recipients. Additionally, supposedly confusing processes for clients and lack of outreach to residents affect the department’s role in the community.

HAHSTA failed to pay HIV/AIDS organizations on time, despite possessing the funds to do so, according to a D.C. DOH press release.

The unaccounted-for funds were largely allocated to housing groups funded with HUD money, including one that received more than $400,000 for a promised job-training center that never opened, according to The Washington Post. Márquez said in a statement to the Post that the District could have violated more than 60 HUD requirements.

In a statement released by the DOH on Oct. 19, [D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said his administration will not tolerate this misallocation of funds](

“This administration will not tolerate any kind of waste, fraud or abuse of government resources, particularly the resources that are intended for our more vulnerable populations,” Fenty said in the release. “HAHSTA has taken important steps over the past two years to ensure the accountability of public funding to provide services and will continue to improve the way we serve our residents living with HIV and AIDS.”

“It is absolutely unacceptable that any single person suffers as a result of the District not being able to manage taxpayer dollars,” Márquez said. “This is where they pushed it to: No new money until you fix this.”

After monitoring its funds from fiscal year 2009, HUD found that the District has not submitted complete accounting records. HAHSTA must comply with HUD’s requests for complete financial records, or next year’s grants to provide housing for city residents with AIDS will be frozen, Márquez said in a press release.

According to HUD officials, this is the first time in the 18-year history of the program that money would be withheld from a city based on poor performance.

árquez said to the Post that the agency decided to withhold grant money because the District’s AIDS program has consistently been among the most troubled in the nation.

Since at least 2003, the District, which has the highest percentage of AIDS cases in the country, has repeatedly failed to keep tabs on nonprofit groups that promised to provide housing for the sick, according to HUD’s monitoring reports. In some cases, the District did not provide financial records and other documents from HUD monitors.

A report issued by D.C. health officials earlier this year states at least 3 percent of District residents are living with HIV or AIDS and every mode of transmission is on the rise.

The D.C. Department of Health says HAHSTA is still working to improve methods for holding organizations accountable and ensuring that services are delivered to residents as planned.

“The Department of Health is working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to resolve any issues,” Dena Iverson, director of communications for the D.C. Department of Health, said.

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