A group dedicated to helping HIV/AIDS patients in mid-Missouri is one step closer to increasing affordable housing for its clients after Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Following a public hearing, the council unanimously approved an amendment to its fiscal 2004 plan for administering federal housing grant money that will give $125,000 to the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network of Central Missouri, or RAIN.
The money will allow RAIN to buy and renovate a house in central Columbia to provide housing for people with HIV and AIDS.
The planned renovations would create four housing units and help answer a growing need among RAIN’s clients, said Mindy Mulkey, executive director of RAIN.
“The purpose of the project is to provide long-term, stable housing for people with HIV,” Mulkey said .
Troy Balthazor of the Boone County Basic Needs Coalition supported the amendment at the hearing, pointing out that affordable housing is in short supply.
“It is a step toward enhancing the stock of affordable housing for members of our community who are struggling to meet basic, daily needs,” he said.
The problem arises when people with HIV and AIDS face increased medical costs, the loss of regular income and discrimination, Mulkey said. Long-term housing improves access to case management and medical treatment, as well as encouraging those with HIV or AIDS to take their medication regularly. Mulkey said that with improved treatment, clients could work toward economic self-sufficiency.
RAIN currently serves 238 clients across 33 counties, 123 of whom live in Columbia, according to materials submitted with the funding application.
Before the amendment becomes official, City Manager Ray Beck must submit it to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval, said Tom Lata of the city’s Planning and Development Committee. The department oversees the allocation of grant money under the city’s HOME plan for improving housing quality.
The amendment will remain open to public comment until Sept. 28.
Also at the meeting, the council held the second of a series of three public hearings on the fiscal 2005 budget. The fiscal year starts Oct 1.
The next public hearing on the budget will be at the council’s next meeting Sept. 20. The council will also vote on the $277 million budget. City manager Ray Beck urged the public to go to the city’s Web page – www.gocolumbiamo.com – and examine the budget.
Missourian reporter David Shay contributed to this report.