With the International AIDS Conference upon us, it is wonderful to see the excitement and interest growing among the public and the United States Government. HUD has been proud to be a part of this historic return of the International AIDS Conference to the U.S. and the renewed efforts by the Obama administration to end the AIDS epidemic in America. The implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy puts us one step closer to making this a reality.
At HUD we know that having a place to call home is a vital part of serving those who are HIV positive and their families. No one living with HIV or AIDS should lack the housing they need simply because of their zip code. We are striving to ensure that all of our programs are available to those who need them, no matter where they live.
This year we announced the Equal Access Rule making it clear that no one can be denied housing based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. We are also working to embed the principles of equal access to supportive housing throughout HUD's so-called "mainstream" programs -- from Section 8 to the HOME program which is responsible for a million affordable homes, to our Continuum of Care programs that can provide the rapid re-housing of people who might need to escape homelessness. It's this model that allowed us to get 20 percent of homeless veterans off the streets just in the last year alone -- saving lives and taxpayer dollars at the same time.
As our Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program enters its 20th year it will reach an estimated 90,000 individuals between direct and leveraged housing support and 124,000 with other necessary services, such as case management, that make maintaining their health possible. As we look forward, HOPWA is committed to utilizing current HIV surveillance data to allocate resources and help states and localities assess needs and make informed decisions to achieve better housing results.
HUD will continue to collaborate with its federal partners to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and build on the successes of the past two years. With the Department of Health and Human Services, HUD is working to ensure that the housing status of a person living with HIV and AIDS is one of the core indicators used by HHS to monitor their quality of care. HUD and the Department of Labor are also joining force to explore and promote employment programs for persons living with HIV and AIDS.
We look forward to the International AIDS Conference allowing us to showcase these achievements and discuss new opportunities with our domestic and international colleagues.