Housing:

HUD's Program for Persons With AIDS

RCED-97-62: Published: Mar 24, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, focusing on: (1) what the rationale is for having a housing program within HUD specifically for people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); (2) what kinds of activities are being funded through the program; (3) whom the program is serving; (4) how the program is coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Ryan White AIDS assistance programs; and (5) how HUD headquarters oversees program administration and monitoring.

GAO noted that: (1) the legislative history for the HOPWA program indicates that the Congress established the program within HUD in 1990 because the existing housing resources at the time were reportedly not meeting the needs of people with AIDS, who often had difficulty obtaining suitable housing because of the need for supportive services, discrimination, or other problems; (2) HUD and HHS officials, along with several grantees and project sponsors GAO contacted, generally believe that these problems still exist and that the HOPWA program is still needed to counteract them; (3) grantees can use funds for a broad range of housing assistance and supportive services intended to prevent homelessness; (4) the limited data available from HUD indicate that about 71 percent of the funds that have been expended has been used to provide housing assistance, about 16 percent has been used to provide supportive services independent of housing assistance, and the remaining 13 percent has been used for housing information services, resource identification, and grantees' and project sponsors' administrative costs; (5) however, it should be recognized that these data do not fully reflect the grantees' use of program appropriations; (6) as of October 7, 1996, the grantees had expended 37 percent of the total funds appropriated since fiscal year 1992, and the grantees' reports describing their use of program funds available from HUD's Office of HIV/AIDS Housing covered only 27 percent of the funds that the grantees had expended during that time; (7) under the Department's regulations, the program generally provides assistance to low-income individuals with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or AIDS and their families; (8) GAO's analysis of the limited data available from the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing indicates that 70 percent of the program participants received housing assistance, while about 30 percent received supportive services not associated with housing assistance funded by the program; (9) of those that received housing assistance, about 67 percent were adult males, and about 70 percent had incomes below $500 per month; (10) coordination between the HOPWA and Ryan White Titles I and II programs, which provide grants to states and localities to fund a wide range of services to assist people with HIV/AIDS, occurs primarily at the grantee level; (11) according to officials in HUD and HHS, coordination of the two programs is basically informal; (12) HUD field offices are primarily responsible for the oversight and monitoring of grantees under the program; and (13) headquarters directs and monitors the field offices' oversight of the grant programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The HIV/AIDS Housing Office reviewed potential changes to the formula. HUD compiled an analysis to show the effects of various alternatives on grantees' funding levels, including use of the 10-year weighted numbers developed for the CARE Act to reflect living cases of persons with AIDS. However, HUD did not recommend changing the formula, being reluctant to recommend any change that might disrupt funding for those who depend on HOPWA support. HUD expects to continue to consult with HHS, AIDS housing advocates, and others on changes in the HIV epidemic and may recommend changes in the allocation requirements. HUD issued guidance on reporting requirements, specifying that grantees must address how activities were carried out in collaboration with related programs, including entities that administer programs under the CARE Act. However, HUD did not revise the program requirements to specify the representatives that grantees must include in planning the use of HOPWA funds.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the HOPWA funds are allocated to grantees as equitably as possible and that grantees involve all relevant parties in planning the use of these funds, and to promote greater consistency and coordination between the HOPWA and Ryan White programs, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development (CPD) to: (1) examine the changes to the funding formulas under titles I and II of the 1996 Ryan White CARE Act amendments, determine what legislative revisions are needed to make the HOPWA formula more reflective of current AIDS cases, and make appropriate recommendations to the Congress; and (2) specify the representatives that the grantees must include in planning the use of the HOPWA funds, similar to the CARE Act title I planning requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of HIV/AIDS Housing has instituted a log-in system to track the intake of performance reports submitted by HOPWA grantees. Also in response to this recommendation, in February 1998, the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing issued additional guidance to update performance reporting requirements for formula grantees that have not yet converted to the automated Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) and for competitive grantees. Among other requirements, this guidance states that grantees must submit a completed annual progress report within 90 days after the end of each operating year to the local HUD area office that is responsible for managing the grant and the HIV/AIDS Housing Office at HUD headquarters. According to HUD, the area offices implement standard grants management procedures in reviewing grantee submissions to monitor compliance with program requirements including timely submission of performance reports.

    Recommendation: To better assess HOPWA's overall accomplishments and to ensure the effective use of the annual progress reports required of the HOPWA grantees, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development to implement a procedure, such as a tracking system, to ensure that all reports are received and processed by HUD in a timely manner.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD has stated that IDIS would be able to provide more current accomplishment information. In 1998, HUD clearly stated in guidance to grantees the requirements for updating the information, including within 90 days of any disbursement request. However, HUD has since reduced those requirements; the FY 1999 grant agreement requires only that grantees provide performance data in IDIS by 90 days after the end of the program year, and grantees are able to access funds through IDIS without reporting any such data. A 1999 GAO report (RCED-99-98) found that IDIS does not allow HUD to track grantees' performance on a real-time basis as intended, and recommended that HUD consider whether it is more cost-effective to modify or replace IDIS, and ensure that the system provides timely, accurate data on grantees' performance.

    Recommendation: To ensure that IDIS, the new reporting system for the grantees, provides current accomplishment information for the HOPWA grants, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development to clearly state in guidance to the grantees the requirements for updating the information and establish a means of ensuring that the grantees update the information as required.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

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