HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
MARCH 18, 2005 3
I Houston news
Federal AIDS funding increased for Houston in 2005
After a decrease in
2004, Ryan White
funding for AIDS
for some cities,
By BINNIE FISHER
Agencies that provide services to people
with HIV/AIDS submitted their requests
for federal grants through the Ryan White
Care Act and held their breath.
Last year, the news was not good.
Funding was cut by 6.8 percent over what
it had been the previous year.
When funding awards were announced
last week for 2005, those same providers
breathed a sigh of relief.
This year, Houston's allocation rose by
4.1 percent. To Ken Malone, executive director of the Assistance Fund, doing the math
and looking at what was lost last year and
gained in 2005, it feels a lot like flat funding.
Still, he isn't complaining, especially when
he looks at other major metropolitan areas.
"New York had a 3.4 percent decrease,
and L.A. was flat-funded at a half a percent," he said.
San Francisco, a city that usually is
awarded funding increases, this year saw
it's Ryan White funding drop by five percent, Malone said.
Houston's increase is "good and bad" at
the same time, he said, because it means
more people with AIDS need treatment.
At the Montrose Clinic, Executive Director
Katy Caldwell said, the increased funding
translates to about an eight-percent gain.
"We had good news for a change," she said.
At the clinic, she said, Ryan White
Funds are dedicated to treatment of people with AIDS.
"For clients with no health insurance,
it pays for their outpatient medical care,"
For those individuals, Caldwell said,
the Montrose Clinic becomes their primary physician and takes care of all their
outpatient medical needs.
Testing for at-risk populations, she said,
is paid for through funding from the City of
Houston and the Centers for Disease
Control in Atlanta, and it is done at the clinic in bars, bathhouses and bookstores.
When a client tests positive for the HIV
virus and they do not have insurance,
Calwell said, they become a patient of the
clinic if they choose to do so.
"We literally walk them down the hall"
to meet with a physician, she said. "We
have a personal commitment to providing
whatever care system they need."
At Bering Omega Community Services,
President Dan Snare said, he won't start
counting the dollars until they are in the
bank, but he has been informed that an
increase is on the way.
The funds at Bering also go to caring
for AIDS patients but in a different way
from those at the Montrose Clinic.
"The Ryan White Title I funds support
three of our core programs," he said.
The dental clinic that provides services
to people with HIV and AIDS will see an
increase in funding as will the adult day
care program and Bering's hospice program, Omega House.
"The adult day care program provides
two hot meals a day, breakfast and lunch,
and nursing care to make sure people are
taking their medications properly," he said.
Snare added that for some clients, physical therapy is also provided with the
Ryan White funds.
"The program is designed really for
people who have needs that are not being
met by their primary care givers," he said.
Care Act is up for review in D.C.
Malone spent part of last week and the
first part of this week in Washington,
D.C, where the Ryan White Care Act is up
"One thing that could directly affect us
is the formula for how the funds are allocated," he said.
Katy Caldwell remembers being a volunteer trying to help deal with the AIDS epidemic prior to federal funding being allocated.
"Everybody begged, borrowed and
stole," she said. "There were boxes in all
the bars, and people would put money in
them. I remember just trying to help people pay their rent."
The day the Ryan White Act became
law in 1990 was cause for great celebra-
Ken Malone, executive director of the Assistance
Fund, said AIOS service providers are breathing a
sigh of relief over news that federal funding has
been increased this year.
tion. she said.
"Finally, after Ronald Reagan ignored
everyone for so long," she said. "The original sponsors were Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-
Mass.) and Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah).
Hatch was very proud of it. It's always
been bi-partisan legislation."
Activists walked down Congress for a rally at the Capitol
More than 1,000 gay
activists answered the
call to rally at the Texas
state capitol on Sunday
By BINNIE FISHER
In every corner of Texas, Sunday was
warm, sunny and the perfect day for an
AIDS Walk, a fundraising brunch and a
rally on the steps of the Texas State Capitol.
Although numerous events competed
for volunteers, Randall Ellis, executive
director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights
Lobby of Texas, said more than 1,000
activists answered his call to activism.
Ellis had called on gays and lesbians
throughout the state to converge on Austin
last Sunday for a march down Congress
•f) MORE INFO
Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (LGRL)
Randall Ellis, executive director of the Lesbian and
Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, said more than 1,000
activists turned out for an Austin rally on Sunday.
Avenue and a rally at the State Capitol.
The rally was staged to denounce two
bills that have been introduced to ban marriage between persons of the same sex.
"Anytime you get a thousand-plus folks
marching down Congress, I'm excited,"
Although the rally made for good TV
footage and newspaper photos, Ellis said, he
asked those who participated to stick around
for even more important work on Monday.
"What was even better was Lobby Day
on Monday," he said. "The ability to put a
face to our issues is what really counts."
Lobbyists were sent out in teams Monday
morning to various legislative offices. In the
afternoon, those same lobbyists visited with
legislators from their own districts.
"I tagged along with a few of the teams,
and I was very impressed," Ellis said. "We
hit all of the 181 legislative offices, and a
good number got to speak to the legislators themselves."
Ellis said, activists wanted to offer then-
views on the two pieces of legislation.
House Joint Resolution 6, introduced by
State Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa)
would define marriage as being between
one man and one woman.
House Joint Resolution 19. introduced
by State Rep. Robert Talton (R-Pasadena)
would define marriage in the same way
but also states, "Legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be
valid or recognized."
Ellis said those who lobbied on Monday
were able to make their views known to
Chisum but not Talton.
"We were received warmly as always
with Warren Chisum. even though he is
against us," Ellis said.
Legislative session gearing up
"The (legislative) session is starting to
gear up," he said. "We know that within
the coming weeks, they're going to hear
those amendments in the House
Committee on State Affairs."
Ellis said he knows of three votes on
that committee that will not approve the
amendments. As it stands now, he said,
there will be a swing vote that will decide
whether the legislation dies in committee,
an it will come from a Republican.
"We would love to see that bill killed in
committee," he said.
If approved by the committee, he said,
one of the bills would go to the House floor
Ellis said he believes lobbyists, who
hailed from as far away as Amarillo and
from big towns and small towns, made a
distinct difference on Monday.
At least two additional lobby events
will be scheduled in 2005, he said.
"The legislature has managed to use a
stick against our community," he said. "Our
challenge is to tie a carrot to that stick."