City gets federal grant for HIV/AIDS programs

Posted on 01 Oct 2009 at 9:25pm
By John Wright | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Money is part of HHS’ HIRE program targeting HIV-positive people being released from prison

Angela Hunt

The city of Dallas has been awarded a $247,000 federal grant for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention. The grant is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program called HIRE, which stands for HIV/AIDS Initiative for Re-Entry, according to Brett Wilkinson, director of intergovernmental services for the city. Wilkinson said the HIRE program is geared toward outreach and prevention among HIV-positive people who are being released from prison.

City Councilwoman Angela Hunt said Monday, Sept. 28, that she was especially pleased to learn that the city had been awarded the grant given the council’s recent decision to cut $325,000 for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention from the 2009-10 budget. City officials said they applied for the grant in July after it became clear that the budget cuts would take place.

“This is such a relief,” said Hunt, who introduced an unsuccessful budget amendment seeking to reinstate HIV/AIDS funding to the budget. “I know this has been such a serious concern to the GLBT community and me and other councilmembers who wanted to ensure that we had HIV/AIDS education/prevention funding. Thanks to the hard work of our city staff, we were able to attain a grant to address the very issues we were most concerned about.”

Wilkinson said the grant money will be split into three areas: an existing city program that provides case-management to nonviolent parolees, called Project Reconnect; a city pilot project called Dallas One-Stop Optimized Re-Entry System, which will set up one-stop centers where recently released convicts can go; and outside HIV/AIDS service providers that can provide similar services.

It’s unclear whether any of the grant money will go to the agencies affected by the budget cuts —AIDS Interfaith Network, Resource Center Dallas, Urban League of Greater Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In addition to the grant for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention, the city administers some $3 million in pass-through federal funds for housing people with HIV/AIDS.

However, the $325,000 that was cut from the budget represented the entire amount spent by the city on HIV/AIDS from its own coffers.

According to Wilkinson, the city has also applied for another $250,000 federal grant for outreach and prevention that would be used to curb HIV transmission among high-risk minority adolescents. He said officials have not heard whether the city will be awarded the grant.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2009.

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