A coalition of service providers is asking Illinois residents to contact state lawmakers and ask for the restoration of funds, already appropriated for organizations serving persons of color with HIV/AIDS, that were lost in a bureaucratic snafu.
The Service Providers Improvement Network ( SPIN ), comprised of about 15 organizations, is asking that the General Assembly restore about $1.5 million appropriated to the African American AIDS Response Act Fund ( AAARAF ). Illinois Department of Public Health ( IDPH ) awarded that amount in grants to a number of service providers last spring, but, once FY 2015 began, the agency notified grantees that the money would be unavailable. Most of the organizations had by that time made budgetary decisions based on that money's availability, so its withdrawal promised dire consequences for many.
Reasons for the withdrawal are still unclear. IDPH officials contend that the General Assembly never made the proper deposit of the funds. Legislators, however, say that IDPH never identified a revenue stream from which the funds could be drawn.
SPIN is asking concerned Illinois residents to contact their legislators and ask that the funds to be disbursed.
In a Dec. 1 statement, coalition members said, "While the impact of not replenishing the AAARAF can be measured in services not provided, what is equally important is the impact the lack of funding has on the frail infrastructure for HIV prevention work in African American communities across the state. Fifteen organizations had successfully competed for and received IDPH notification of funding awards. The average award was $100,000 to provide services such as HIV testing and counseling, behavioral interventions, and linkage to medical care.
"Fifteen organizations from across the state have organized themselves to become the Service Provider Improvement Network and are working to educate the public and legislators on the urgency of restoring the $1.5 million in the African American AIDS Response Act Fund. This World AIDS Day, show your support by calling your Illinois legislator and using the hashtag #FundTheResponseAct in your social media posts."
Legislator information can be found at: wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8810/getLocal.jsp
SPIN members include Affinity Community Services, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, BMX Chicago, Brothers Health Collective, Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, Chicago Recovery Alliance, Chicago Women's AIDS Project, Community Health and Education, Community Wellness Project, East Side Health District, Making A Daily Effort, Men and Women in Prison Ministries, Proactive Community Services, Project VIDA, Southside Health Center, Taskforce Prevention & Community Services and Writers Planners Trainers Inc.
Windy City Times originally reported on the controversy here: windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Agencies-push-state-to-release-HIV-AIDS-funds-/48939.html