Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) is a federally funded HUD program that offers a variety of housing solutions and support services for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Funding for HOPWA is determined annually by a formula that is largely based on the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS in any given jurisdiction. The State of Georgia is comprised of three jurisdictions. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs' (DCA) HOPWA program covers the largest geographical area, known as the Balance of State, which includes 126 counties. The other two jurisdictions in the State of Georgia include the City of Atlanta Eligible Metropolitan Statistical Area (EMSA), which covers 29 counties centered on metro-Atlanta, and the Augusta-Richmond jurisdiction, which includes 4 counties.
HIV/AIDS is one of the most socially stigmatized health conditions. Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have to face numerous challenges to maintain stable housing, health care and treatment due to the stigma associated with the disease. Studies have reported that almost 70% of PLWHA face homelessness at some point during their lifetimes. Stable housing is an important structural intervention in successful HIV prevention and care. The HOPWA program focuses on providing stable housing to those experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that stable housing supported by the HOPWA program creates an environment that allows PLWHA to be better able to maintain their HIV care and become virally suppressed.
DCA funds 9 regional Project Sponsors that provide services in most of the counties in the Balance of State. They work closely with local health departments to ensure that those assisted also maintain HIV medical care. The majority of the area covered by DCA is rural, with additional social challenges including poverty, increased social stigma, limited community resources and a lack of public transportation. With the help of its Project Sponsors, DCA attempts to leverage the HOPWA program with other local services and resources to create a comprehensive strategy to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Georgia.