New Year Resolutions 2017

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Merry Christmas

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To everyone whom we have shared our lives with,

Merry Christmas &

Happy New Year 2017

Reflections on World AIDS Day 2016

 

Today, another World AIDS Day will come and go, just like the many before it. While we are 35 years into this epidemic – perhaps because we are 35 years into this epidemic – it is more important than ever to take the time to observe World AIDS Day, and reflect on what it truly means.

In recent years, there has been much progress to celebrate: the advent of PrEP, treatment as prevention, and new strategies to link people to care. At the same time, challenging realities continue: this epidemic continues to be fueled by social inequities, with gay men, trans people, people of color, and the poor facing the brunt of the epidemic.

On this World AIDS Day, staff at AIDS United reflected on what motivates us to continue in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic – on the good days and the bad. Below are some of our responses.


My college mentor was like me in many aspects. He too grew up in rural America, managed an organization that fought for LGBT rights, and enjoyed reading the New York Times. He traveled the region empowering young people like myself to understand the power of our voices, stories, and votes and always challenged me to speak up for what I believed in. After several months, he also told me that he was living with HIV.

I could not believe it.

His disclosure shook the faux foundations on which I had built my new gay identity. I thought HIV was an outdated concern that didn’t happen to people like me. So, I did as I commonly do when presented with something that challenged me. I researched. I found that gay men—and other racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities—are disproportionately affected by HIV. I realized that HIV is much more complicated than what my upbringing in rural America led me to believe.

It made me angry.

How could a virus intersect with so many other social justice issues? Why can’t we find the political will to really do something about it? How are we not outraged and rallying in the streets?

Many years later, I realize that I still have more questions than answers, but the passion that I found then still fuels me today. It’s why I’m so proud of the work we do here at AIDS United.

Cody Barnett


We’ve come a long way, still far to go
Live without stigma, let’s make it so

Break out of the shadows, keep silent no more
Let’s do right by those who came before

Hear us now, what do we say
Stand up for justice, tolerance, and equality
On World AIDS – and EVERY Day!

Farah Nageer-Kanthor



This year, I made a personal commitment to run the Marine Corps Marathon to raise awareness, funds, and resources to support HIV and harm reduction in my community.

On World AIDS Day, I rededicate myself to this cause. We won’t end this epidemic until we address the injustices that fuel it.

Paola Barahona



Pedro Zamora passed away over twenty years ago, at the age of 22, and yet his legacy of humanizing HIV and advocating on behalf of hundreds of thousands of individuals remains.

Being 22 myself, I often belittle my own capabilities when it comes to advocacy. However, in my role as the Pedro Zamora Public Policy Fellow at AIDS United, I am constantly reminded of the impact young people can have in mobilizing, inspiring, and igniting change.

– Brianna Naumchik


Now More than Ever
Julio J. Fonseca

As day turns to night, and thoughts (re)appear
They turn to those lost who were held so dear
To those who are living in pain and pure isolation
In this surreal time of discord and disparity in our nation
And how we jumped ahead into this bubbled space
Where the challenge of surviving and living we face
Deciding how to honor memories while moving ahead
Marching towards thriving and pushing down dread
Challenging thoughtless leaders to do what is right
Forging ahead with our love and continuing the fight
We honor all who have been affected by this condition
And carry our hope forward as our message and our mission.
Because it will not be done without us.



I served as an AIDS United AmeriCorps Member on a team with 11 other amazing and inspiring people who became life-long friends. One of my major takeaways from AmeriCorps is that anyone can make change. Even seemingly small actions can chip away at our obstacles, like HIV stigma. This is something I remember on days where I feel like the odds are stacked against us. And, when things feel insurmountable, I know I have my community to call on for support. I love you guys!

Sarah Hashmall




Managing Southern REACH at AIDS United allows me the opportunity to see the hard work being done on the ground in the some of the most affected parts of the country—specifically, the “Deep South.” Each year, people in that region advocate for policies that directly improve the lives of people living with HIV. They fight hard against outdated laws and legislative intransigence while understanding a “win” may take some time.

Knowing that I play a small part in that effort keeps me focused on this work, even when those policy wins seem so hard to get to. I believe in this work and I greatly respect the folks in those states for getting up each time they get knocked down and working that much harder. I am inspired to also get up each time despite the challenging political climate and uncertainty of the next administration.

Liam Cabal


Music has always been very inspirational to me. A song that I find motivating on the difficult days is, One Sweet Day, by Boys II Men & Mariah Carey, since it helps me remember all of those who have passed on – they are why I do this work. Particularly moving lines from the song are:

Never had I imagined
Living without your smile
Feeling and knowing you hear me
It keeps me alive
Alive

Although the sun will never shine the same
I’ll always look to a brighter day

And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way
And I know eventually we’ll be together
One sweet day

H.R.3700 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)

 

There are 5 summaries for H.R.3700.
Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 114-201 (07/29/2016)

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the House on February 2, 2016. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016

This bill amends the United States Housing Act of 1937 and other housing laws to modify the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) rental assistance (including section 8 low-income [voucher]) and public housing programs, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA’s) requirements for condominium mortgage insurance, and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) single family housing guaranteed loan program.

TITLE I–SECTION 8 RENTAL ASSISTANCE AND PUBLIC HOUSING

(Sec. 101) This section revises the requirements for Public House Agencies (PHAs) to inspect dwelling units before making housing assistance payments to ensure that units comply with housing quality standards. If the PHA determines that a unit has defects, the bill sets forth procedures and requirements for determining noncompliance, correcting defects, withholding assistance payments, terminating a housing payments contract for a unit, notifying tenants, and relocating a tenant.

(Sec. 102) A PHA must review the incomes of assisted families in dwelling units: (1) upon the initial provision of housing assistance for the family, (2) annually thereafter, and (3) any time the family’s income and deductions are estimated to increase by 10%. A family may request a review at any time its income and deductions are estimated to decrease by 10%. The PHA must follow specified requirements in calculating income and deductions.

HUD must: (1) develop a mechanism for disclosing information to PHAs for employment and income verification, and (2) ensure that PHAs have access to information contained in the Do Not Pay system established by the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012.

(Sec. 103) If a PHA determines that a tenant’s income is greater than 120% of the area median income for two consecutive years, the PHA must: (1) charge the tenant the greater of the fair market rent or the amount of the government subsidy for the unit, or (2) terminate the tenancy. HUD may increase or decrease the income limitation based on unique local conditions, such as construction costs, unusually high or low family incomes, vacancy rates, or rental costs.

(Sec. 104) A PHA may not rent a dwelling unit to or assist families with net family assets exceeding $100,000 annually (adjusted for inflation) or an ownership interest in property that is suitable for occupancy. This restriction does not apply to victims of domestic violence, individuals using housing assistance for homeownership opportunities, or a family that is offering a property for sale. PHAs must require applicants to authorize financial institutions to disclose records necessary to determine eligibility for benefits.

(Sec. 105) A unit owned by a PHA means any dwelling unit located in a project owned by: (1) the PHA, (2) an entity wholly controlled by the PHA, or (3) a limited liability company or limited partnership in which the PHA holds a controlling interest.

A unit shall not be deemed to be owned by a PHA if the agency only holds an interest in the ground lease, holds a security interest under a mortgage or deed of trust on the unit, or holds a non-controlling interest in an entity that owns the unit.

(Sec. 106) This section changes requirements for PHA project-based assistance. (Project-based rental assistance is a subsidy attached to a unit of privately-owned housing that houses low-income tenants. If the family moves, the subsidy remains with the housing unit. In contrast, tenant-based rental assistance vouchers permit families to move and retain their vouchers.)

A PHA may not use more than 20% of its authorized units for project-based vouchers (PBVs), except for an additional 10% that a PHA may use for PBVs that target the homeless, veterans, the elderly, the disabled, or for units in areas where vouchers are difficult to use due to market conditions.

Calculation of the 20% limit shall not include units subject to federal rent restrictions or receiving another type of long-term housing subsidy from HUD.

A PHA may not provide PBVs in a project that exceed the greater of 25% of the units in a property or 25 units, subject to exceptions for units: (1) exclusively made available to elderly families or to households eligible for supportive service, or (2) located in areas where vouchers are difficult to use or where the poverty rate is 20% or lower.

This section extends the permissible term for PBV contracts from 15 to 20 years, subject to the availability of funds and inspection requirements. If there are insufficient funds, a PHA must prioritize payments for units subject to a PBV contract if other cost-saving measures that do not require the termination of contracts are available. Subject to these limitations, a PHA and the owner may: (1) add eligible units within the same project during the term of a contract, and (2) enter into a housing assistance payments contract with an owner for housing under construction or recently constructed.

If a PBV contract is not extended or is terminated, this section extends tenant-based rental assistance for households to continue to reside in the property or to choose to move.

Subject to existing rent restrictions, a PHA and owner may agree to limit rent increases to the operating cost adjustment factor (OCAF) established by HUD pursuant to the Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act of 1997. Owners may request an additional adjustment periodically subject to rent reasonableness.

Residents may place their names on site-specific waiting lists managed by owners, in addition to waiting lists established by PHAs.

A PHA may provide PBV assistance to improve, develop, or replace a public housing property or property that it controls or has an ownership interest in without using a competitive process if it notifies the public of its intent through its public housing agency plan.

PHAs may use project-based HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) and Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers under the same policies and procedures applicable to general purpose vouchers.

(Sec. 107) This section modifies the public notice requirements for proposed Fair Market Rents (FMRs). PHAs may request exception payment standards within fair market rental areas, subject to HUD procedures and criteria. (Payment standards are used to calculate the housing assistance payment that the PHA pays to the owner on behalf of the family leasing the unit.) No PHA shall be required to reduce any payment standard for a unit based on a reduction in the fair market rent determination if the family occupying the unit before the FMR analysis continues to reside in the unit.

(Sec. 108) HUD must collect and publish utility consumption data to assist in establishing tenant-paid utility allowances.

(Sec. 109) PHAs may establish a replacement reserve to fund specified capital fund activities, subject to specified requirements and restrictions on the transfer of operating funds into the replacement reserve.

(Sec. 110) This section increases: (1) to 36 months the time-period for which a child aging out of foster care may use a family unification housing voucher, and (2) to 24 the maximum age for an individual using the Family Unification Program (FUP). HUD must issue guidance to improve coordination between PHAs and public child welfare agencies in carrying out the FUP.

(Sec. 111) HUD must publish guidelines for minimum heating requirements in public housing units operated by PHAs.

(Sec. 112) This section revises the requirements for providing and calculating voucher rental assistance for families living in manufactured housing.

(Sec. 113) HUD must prioritize financial assistance for U.S. citizens or nationals over aliens who are eligible for assistance.

(Sec. 114) This section exempts PHAs in the county of Los Angeles, California, and in the states of Alaska, Iowa, and Mississippi from the requirement to include public housing residents on their governing boards. PHAs that do not include residents on their boards must establish an advisory board of at least six public housing residents or recipients of section 8 assistance.

TITLE II–RURAL HOUSING

(Sec. 201) This section amends the Housing Act of 1949 to permit USDA to delegate to preferred lenders its loan approval authority for the Rural Housing Service’s single family housing guaranteed loan program.

(Sec. 202) USDA may charge lenders a fee of up to $50 per loan to use USDA’s automated underwriting systems for the single family loan program.

TITLE III–FHA MORTGAGE INSURANCE FOR CONDOMINIUMS

(Sec. 301) This title amends the National Housing Act to require the FHA to modify its certification requirements for condominium mortgage insurance to make recertifications substantially less burdensome than original certifications. The FHA must consider lengthening the time between certifications for approved properties and allowing information to be updated rather than resubmitted.

A HUD field office must make decisions regarding exemptions to current FHA commercial space requirements and must consider factors relating to the economy of the locality in which the project is located.

The FHA must apply to FHA condominium mortgage insurance the existing standards of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) relating to encumbrances under private transfer fee covenants to the same extent and in the same manner as those standards apply to mortgage investments by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). If the FHFA changes its standards after enactment of this bill, the FHA must adopt the changes or disregard them with an explanatory notice within 90 days.

The FHA must issue guidance regarding the percentage of units that must be occupied by the owners (or sold to owners intending to meet such occupancy requirements) in order for a condominium to be eligible for FHA mortgage insurance. If the guidance is not issued within 90 days of enactment of this bill: (1) at least 35% of all family units must be occupied by the owners or sold to owners who intend to meet the occupancy requirement, and (2) the FHA may increase the requirement for a project on a project-by-project or regional basis after considering factors relating to the economy of the locality in which the project is located.

TITLE IV–HOUSING REFORMS FOR THE HOMELESS AND FOR VETERANS

(Sec. 401) This section amends the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to require HUD to define the ”geographic area” for purposes of the Continuum of Care Program (which awards project sponsors or unified funding agencies competitive grants focused on addressing the long-term housing and services needs of homeless individuals and families).

(Sec. 402) Local governments receiving Emergency Solutions Grants may distribute all or part of the assistance to PHAs or Local Redevelopment Authorities. (The grants are awarded to assist the homeless and prevent homelessness. Distribution of the grants is currently limited to nonprofit organizations.)

(Sec. 403) This section amends the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act to require HUD to transfer the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs to the Office of the Secretary.

(Sec. 404) HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs must submit annually to Congress reports regarding: the number of veterans assisted by HUD programs, coordination of services for veterans, and the cost of administering programs to veterans.

(Sec. 405) HUD must reopen the public comment period for the interim rule entitled “Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing: Continuum of Care Program.”

TITLE V–MISCELLANEOUS

(Sec. 501) All recipients of HUD Disaster Housing Assistance Program funds must meet specified income verification requirements.

(Sec. 502) This section amends the Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996 to prohibit HUD from requiring any dwelling in the Self-Help Ownership Opportunity Program to meet energy efficiency standards other than those included in the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act.

(Sec. 503) HUD must create data exchange standards to improve interoperability between federal and state agencies.

TITLE VI–REPORTS

(Sec. 601) HUD, in consultation with the Department of Labor, must report to Congress on their interagency strategies to improve family economic empowerment by linking housing assistance with other support services, such as employment counseling and training, financial education and growth, childcare, transportation, meals, and youth recreational activities.

TITLE VII–HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PERSONS WITH AIDS

(Sec. 701) This title revises the formula and requirements for distributing funds under the Housing Opportunities for Persons With Aids (HOPWA) Program.

A grantee that received an allocation in FY2016 shall continue to be eligible for such allocations in subsequent fiscal years, subject to HUD approval and the amounts available from appropriations Acts. HUD shall:

  • redetermine a grantee’s eligibility at least once every 10 years, and
  • ensure that a grantee that received an allocation in the prior fiscal year does not receive an allocation 5% less than or 10% greater than the amount allocated to that grantee in the preceding fiscal year.

HUD may also award such funds to an alternative grantee if the original grantee agrees in a written document meeting HUD approval.

AIDS FREE GENERATION!!

AIDS United

Thirty-five years ago, the world changed forever when the CDC noted five cases of pneumocystis pneumonia in otherwise healthy men. Today, 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, more than 44,000 people newly contract HIV every year, and more than 670,000 people have died due to HIV-related complications.

It’s easy to get lost in the statistics and forget about the details. The human details. The lives of sons, daughters, parents, or friends cut short or changed forever. This is tough stuff. And we refuse to accept it. 

That’s why, for nearly 30 years AIDS United has identified, funded, and advocated for community-driven responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By focusing on key leverage points like expanding access to care, our mission of ending the AIDS epidemic is more achievable now than ever.

At AIDS United, we don’t just issue grants, provide training, or advocate with and on behalf of people living with HIV. We fight for hope.

An AIDS-Free Generation is possible. We can’t get there without you.

Together, we will continue to search for new ways to bring HIV care to the people who need it most, push back against HIV stigma, and fight for the funding and policies we need.

From every dollar donated, 93 cents will go directly into programs at the forefront of ending the AIDS epidemic in the U.S!

Replacing Obamacare: A Look At Competing Conservative Health Care Proposals

 

The chances that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of land at this point next year are somewhere between slim and none. With that being said, there is very little consensus around what will take its place. Despite the charged rhetoric from President-elect Trump, a full repeal of the ACA, as promised in his Contract With The American Voter, is unlikely for a number of pragmatic reasons. For starters, a complete repeal of the ACA would require at least 60 votes in the Senate, which isn’t likely given that the GOP will only hold 52 Senate seats. And, should the 60 vote hurdle be cleared, Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration would be forced to confront the fact that replacement plans created by GOP leaders and conservative think tanks are more conceptual than practical, proving thin on implementation instructions.

For his part, President-elect Trump doesn’t have a fully-formed health care plan of his own. Throughout the campaign and well into his presidential transition, both Mr. Trump’s personal and professional views on health care reform have been somewhat murky. At various times, President-elect Trump has promised to both fully repeal and keep major portions of the ACA, praised Planned Parenthood while also pledging to defund it, and said that he will “take care of everyone” while releasing a health care plan that would leave an estimated 21 million people without insurance. However, if his current platform and conservative cabinet picks are any indication, it does not appear that his administration’s health care policy will deviate too much from the GOP norm. It is very likely that any health care plan pushed by Trump will include the repeal of much of the ACA. What Trump and Congressional Republicans end up replacing it with is less certain, but the shape of reforms to come can be seen in previous proposals from Republican leadership and how closely they align to the health care page of Trump’s transition website.

Of all the existing Republican proposals, two are currently positioned to serve as blueprints for whatever Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration agree on as a replacement for the ACA. The first proposal and frontrunning proposal was put forth by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) this past summer as part of his “A Better Way” platform, is the closest thing the Republican Party currently has to a comprehensive vision of what conservative health care policy should look like. The second proposal, the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015, is the latest in a series of legislation proposed by Representative Tom Price (R-GA), who was recently nominated by President-elect Trump to be Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services. A Tea Party conservative and former orthopedic surgeon, Price currently serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee and has been one of the most vocal opponents of the ACA in Congress. Ryan’s A Better Way plan incorporates many of the health care reform mechanisms that are included in the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015 and, given their leadership roles within the House and HHS, there’s good reason to believe that any ACA replacement plan formulated by the Trump Administration and Congress will borrow heavily from them.

There is plenty of nuance and detail to be sifted through in their health care proposals, but the defining characteristics of both are that they benefit those who are young, healthy, and well-to-do at the expense of those who are old, sick, and poor. Like the policy listed on President-elect Trump’s transition site, both the Ryan and Price plans shift the burden of providing Americans with health insurance from the Federal government and society at large to the States and individual citizens. The Republican plans replace the much maligned individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the comprehensive, need-based subsidies provided through the ACA with free-market approaches that emphasize health savings accounts and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines while doling out tax credits based on age rather than income.

On the surface, the Ryan and Price plans continue to bar insurance companies from raising rates and denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, but a closer look shows that their proposals would only prohibit insurers from raising rates on sick people if they maintain “continuous coverage.” In layman’s terms, this means is that if someone loses their coverage for any reason after the ACA had been repealed and replaced, the insurance companies would then be allowed to hike up their rates based on any pre-existing conditions.

As for the 14 million people who were able to receive insurance though the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, most or all of them would no longer be covered by the leading Republican contenders to replace Obamacare. One of the few concrete proposals that Trump mentioned on the campaign trail was transitioning Medicaid into a block grant program. Currently, Medicaid is funded as an entitlement program where the federal government is obligated to assist states with coverage costs no matter how many people have qualified for the program. Through a block grant, states would be given a set amount of money by the federal government at the beginning of the year and would be forced to make do with what they had regardless of how many people were eligible for coverage. While theoretically not a bad thing, the purpose of transitioning the Medicaid funding to a block grant in the Ryan and Price plans is to reduce the federal contributions to the program and create more flexibility for state to adjust benefit design. There is no detailed breakdown of what effect the Medicaid block grant system would have in Price’s plan, but an analysis of a Medicaid block grant proposal in Ryan’s 2012 budget by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that that between 14 and 20 million people would lose coverage.

There are certainly a number of different directions for health care policy to go in the next 4 years, but—whether the end product looks more like Ryan’s plan, Price’s plan, or something else entirely—the HIV advocacy community and those who fight for quality, affordable health care for all Americans will have their work cut out for them.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department – Friday, December 02, 2016

Can Love Conquer!!!