U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernie Johnson announced this week that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the city of Dallas a $721,000 grant in a three-year renewal of a Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program. The money is separate from the $325,000 in cuts to AIDS funding the city had previously announced.

Lori Davidson, senior contract compliance administrator for the city of Dallas, said the program provides housing assistance for ex-offenders with HIV/AIDS through Project Reconnect, which helps nonviolent offenders transition into the community, assisting in housing, employment and education as well as other support. All participants access the program by referral from AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Arms or Parkland Hospital, which are the agencies that do all of the client intake for the Dallas area’s AIDS service providers.

Davidson said that in addition to housing assistance, they help participants obtain other necessary support services such as medical care, accessing services at places such as Peabody Clinic or Amelia Court, gaining food assistance through Resource Center Dallas’ food pantry or other sources, and mainstream benefits such as Social Security if they qualify. Housing is a particular problem for those recently released from prison, even for the nonviolent persons on parole that Project Reconnect helps. Landlords often do not want to rent to those who were incarcerated for a variety of reasons, Davidson said.

Participants are required to contribute up to 30 percent of their income. Through this grant, the city will pay the balance up to the maximum allowed for a specific sized rental.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2009.
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