[News 6/29/07] Advocacy victory! House votes to lift needle funding ban

prevention worksFor nine years, D.C. government has been unable to spend tax dollars on life-saving needle exchange programs (NEPs), but the U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to lift the funding ban. (WaPo, 6/29) Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) lobbied extensively to make this happen, drawing on support from advocates and the grantmaking community:

WaPo (June 5): “[In her lobbying efforts, Eleanor Holmes Norton] can point to significant backing within the city. Serrano and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the subcommittee that initially handles the D.C. budget, received a letter last month endorsed by representatives of more than two dozen medical, public health, social service and philanthropic organizations.” … “Please help us battle the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the District,” it urged… J. Channing Wickham, who signed the letter as executive director of the Washington AIDS Partnership, sees the timing as propitious…”

The funding bill containing the needle-exchange item now heads to the Senate, where no significant changes are expected. 

This is a huge victory because IV drug users account for about a third of D.C.’s new AIDS cases each year. WG’s Washington AIDS Partnership has long provided funding to PreventionWorks!, the only D.C. group working on needle-exchange, having helped the group form in 1998 after the ban went into effect. Now it looks like E.D. Paola Barahona and program manager Ron Daniels will be able to expand: The Post reports that “D.C. Health Director Gregg Pane is promising $1 million for NEPs in 2008,” and a significant portion is expected to go to PreventionWorks. 

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) introduces legislation to establish “the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which would receive an infusion of funds from mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” (Reuters, 6/28)

Susan Raymond, Ph.D., analyzes the GivingUSA philanthropy numbers. (onPhilanthropy, 6/27)

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