February 18, 2016 at 10:57 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Group helping homeless trans clients loses city funding
Department of Health, gay news, Washington Blade, RAP

(Photo by Carol M. Highsmith)

The D.C. Department of Health says it has discontinued city-approved funding for a non-profit community-based group that has provided emergency housing and medical services to transgender people with HIV.

A DOH spokesperson told the Washington Blade DOH was forced to terminate two federally funded grants for Regional Addiction Prevention, Inc., known as RAP, Inc., because the group failed to submit a required annual audit after being given at least one extension on the deadline for the audit.

The spokesperson, Marcus Williams, said DOH is taking steps to ensure that RAP, Inc.’s clients receiving services under the grants will be transitioned into programs run by other community-based service providers. Among other things, he said DOH provided RAP, Inc. with an emergency transitional grant that will expire on March 31 that gives the group time to transfer clients to other organizations.

Williams said the grants RAP, Inc. had been receiving include funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, or HOPWA program and the federal Ryan White CARE Act program. According to Williams, the federal programs have a strict audit requirement for all grants exceeding $500,000 and failure to comply with the audit requirements could jeopardize future HOPWA or Ryan White grants for other D.C.-based organizations.

RAP, Inc. has been widely recognized as one of the city’s preeminent substance abuse treatment providers since its founding in 1970. In recent years it has expanded its services to include emergency housing, substance abuse treatment and medical services for homeless people with HIV, including transgender people, according to D.C. transgender advocate Earline Budd.

Michael Pickering, RAP, Inc.’s executive director, said that over the past year or so the group has taken steps to bring on several new staff members into its finance department, which he said had not been adequately fulfilling its responsibilities related to the annual audits.

“We have gone through a lot of transition,” he said. “We were not compliant with some of the grant requirements.”

Pickering said RAP, Inc. is in the process of merging with another non-profit organization that it has worked well with called Gaudenzia, Inc., which also provides behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. He said Gaudenzia is applying for grants funded by HUD, for which the D.C. government through DOH selects the recipients.

Under their new joint arrangement Pickering said he was hopeful that DOH would restore the funding it discontinued for RAP, Inc. now that he feels the RAP’s internal staffing problems have been resolved.

But DOH spokesperson Williams said that DOH has issued an expedited Request for Applications, or RFA, to find a new provider for the housing services that RAP, Inc. provided.

“As a result of this expedited process, DOH will make an award of the funding before the current contractual extension expires,” he said. “All organizations that can provide the services can apply.”

Williams said RAP, Inc., would also be eligible to apply for the new round of grant proposals.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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