LOS ANGELES: AIDS Activists Criticize City for Spending Delays
AIDS activists in Los Angeles are accusing the city of refusing to spend the millions of federal dollars it receives to house poor AIDS patients. Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, reportedly the nation's largest HIV/AIDS medical provider, said, "We're waiting. We've been waiting for a year." In response, city officials said a "recently completed study clarified the housing needs for people with AIDS," and last week approved $6.2 million for housing programs. "But that still leaves more than $11 million that has yet to be assigned to any project or program," the Los Angeles Times reports. Ferd Eggan, AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, said, "We tried to keep as much of the money intact without committing it until we could find out some of the fundamental things of the study. We wanted some real guidance in understanding the way people [with HIV or AIDS] are living their lives now." Romerol Malveaux, manager of housing services for the city's housing department, said the city last spring "noticed that there was a 'mismatch' between some of its funding allocations and actual housing needs." For example, less than 50% of the $5 million it allocated for a short-term rental assistance program in 1997 "got used, which indicated that the housing requirements among people with HIV or AIDS had changed." Instead of spending the unused amount right away, Malveaux said "the city waited for the results of the housing study it had commissioned." Activists argue the study's preliminary results were "available months ago," and the city "should have begun distributing housing money then." But Mary Teemley, deputy director of community planning and development for the Southern California office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which gives the city its federal HIV/AIDS housing grants, said the city "acted prudently in waiting to spend the money." Deputy Mayor Noelia Rodriguez said, "The goal here is not to spend the money faster. It's to spend it wisely" (Liu/Newton, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.