Mayor London N. Breed today announced the launch of the first new rental subsidy program for people living with HIV/AIDS in 12 years. In partnership with Mayor Breed and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), the Q Foundation hosted a launch event today at the Main Library for people to receive information about the program, including qualification criteria and the application process.
Last month, MOHCD awarded $1 million to the Q Foundation to administer the HIV/AIDS Rent Subsidy Program. Mayor Breed included the funding for the program in the City budget. In addition to these new subsidies, the City has long provided rental subsidies for people living with HIV and AIDS through the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program.
“As we work to end homelessness in our City, we must also work to keep people housed, and this program helps us do just that,” said Mayor Breed. “Although we’ve reached a record-low number of new HIV infections in San Francisco, disparities exist among populations—including people who are unstably housed. These rental subsidies help people who have HIV live in stable, safe conditions, so they can continue to seek treatment and just live their lives without worrying about their housing situation.”
“On behalf of Q Foundation and the HIV+ communities, we are proud and thankful for the leadership of Mayor London Breed and the City in taking this important step to reduce homelessness,” said Brian Basinger, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Q Foundation. “There are currently 2,390 people with HIV in San Francisco with immediate need for housing assistance. This investment in equity provides hope for our HIV+ communities who are among the top five highest rates of homelessness in the City.”
Following the information session, case managers from the Q Foundation walked people through the application process using the Library’s computer lab. This immediate screening for eligibility will allow Q Foundation staff to begin reviewing applications as soon as possible. The rental subsidies will be administered to approximately 120 individuals who are HIV positive. To qualify for the program, people must be either currently housed and paying more than 70 percent of their income toward rent, or offered below-market rate housing in San Francisco, but in need of a subsidy.
“There is an immense need for rental subsidies for individuals who are HIV positive living in San Francisco, the city with one of the highest rates of HIV positive people experiencing homelessness in the United States,” said Daniel Adams, Acting Director of MOHCD. “We are excited to partner with the Q Foundation to administer these subsidies to ensure those with HIV/AIDS can live with dignity and security.”
In 2014, San Francisco City agencies and organizations came together in a collective impact initiative known as Getting to Zero. This initiative brings together people and resources from throughout the city with three goals in mind: zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.
Helping HIV positive individuals remain housed or find housing advances the City’s goal of “getting to zero” new HIV infections and HIV-related deaths. Stable housing allows people to more easily access the regular health care and medications they need to achieve viral suppression. Viral suppression drugs have made HIV a survivable disease for many, but there is a major disparity when it comes to people who are marginally housed or homeless. Thirty-three percent of homeless persons living with HIV in San Francisco are virally suppressed, compared to 74 percent of housed persons.
In the 2018 Annual HIV Epidemiology Report, which was released this September, the Department of Public Health found that the total number of new HIV diagnoses fell below 200 for the first time. However, the number of new HIV diagnoses increased among people experiencing homelessness, further demonstrating the need for programs that help people become housed and remain in their homes.
In addition to the rental subsidy program for HIV-positive people, the City has a wide portfolio of rental and housing subsidies for low-income trans people, seniors, people with disabilities, and formerly homeless individuals living in permanent supportive housing. The City budget for Fiscal Years 2019-20 and 2020-21 includes $2 million in new subsidies for trans individuals and $300,000 for trans housing stability case management, and is projected to serve at least 55 households. The budget also includes $7 million in new funding for housing subsidies for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, including $500,000 that the Q Foundation is also administering. These investments will prevent eviction and stabilize tenancies for some of the City’s most vulnerable residents.
Q Foundation aims to prevent homelessness by protecting the housing people already have, providing resources to secure new housing, and promoting public policy to expand opportunities for all. Q Foundation provides rental subsidies and affordable housing application assistance to diverse community of San Francisco, specifically including LGBTQ, HIV+, seniors, disabled adults, and families.
Individuals interested in applying for the rental subsidies should talk to their case manager, or use Q Foundation’s online self-referral tool at https://theqfoundation.org/signup.