Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I qualify for HOPWA services?

Everyone is welcome to receive budget planning advice from a PASO Case Manager. Also, emergency HOPWA assistance may be able to help pay your bills if you face a problem you did not expect, and cannot meet your shelter expenses because of it.

How do I make an appointment for budget advice or help with overdue bills?

Please call (806) 372-1050 to make an appointment. If we are speaking with someone else, or we are closed, you will get a recording. We get many, many calls. Please leave your name and number, and we will call you the same day or the next, Monday through Friday.

Once we make an appointment for you, we will go over with you the list the papers you need to bring with you when you come to our office.

Please do not miss or be late for your appointment.

What proofs and papers do I need?

You will need to bring seven proofs with you. Your HIV case manager may have some of these proofs already. The seven proofs you will need are:

  1. Proof of HIV+ status in your name, from a doctor or clinic.
  2. Social Security number and photo ID for you. Social Security numbers or other ID for every family member who lives with you. Proof of age for children.
  3. Proof an unexpected event keeps you from paying your household bills. Examples include: receipts for Emergency Room services, proof of job loss or fewer hours at work, that you had a fire or flood, your roommates moved, etc.
  4. As a renter, a current lease in your name as tenant. If you do not have a lease, we have a form your landlord can use. If you are buying a home, the payment book or contract in your name. If you own your home, proof of home ownership.
  5. Your last rent or mortgage receipt and all bills for electricity, gas, water and phone at the address where you live.
  6. Past-due notices for rent or mortgage in your name, and for utilities in your name.
  7. Proof  of  your  household income, including Social Security and SSI benefits, TANF benefits, earnings, pensions, etc.  If you are disabled and will not return to work, proof you have filed for Social Security or SSI disability benefits.  If you are ill this month but expect to return to work, a notice from your doctor. If you are out of work, or your work hours were cut, proof you are looking for new work or letter from your employer. If you have a new job but need help with bills this month only, proof your new earnings will cover your bills next month.

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, you need proof of legal residence in Texas.

What happens when I come to my appointment? How soon can I get help?

We start every visit with a smile and a handshake. We will discuss your needs and how best to help you. Each person has different needs, so we cannot say how much we can help you until we review everything in person. We want to be able to assist you. In order to do that, you have to help us to help you! If you bring all the papers with you that we need we may be able to help you. If you have a utility notice, we call the utility company and pledge a payment for you. For your landlord or mortgage-broker, we give you a promissory letter to take to her or him.

How often can I receive emergency HOPWA assistance?

This program is available for up to 147 days of a twelve-month period, or once the financial assistance has reached our annual cap. These limits apply no matter where you live in the 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.

This is a lot of work do I have to face this same process each month?

You do have to apply for each month that you want assistance. It is not automatic or guaranteed. However, many proofs you only have to provide one time. The first visit requires the most effort, and later visits are often quicker and easier.

How much do you provide in assistance? How are benefit amounts computed?

Each applicants circumstances are different. Check amounts vary monthly. There is no guaranteed minimum amount.

We use one formula, based on HOPWA guidelines, for all applicants.

Will my landlord or utility company know I have HIV if you mail a check for me?

Under no circumstances do we identify the Financial Assistance Program as one for people with HIV. We do not identify ourselves as a program of PASO, and we do not mention HIV in any of our documentation. We take great effort to guard your status and do not release it to anyone.

What if I already paid these bills, but I need reimbursement for my payments?

All checks are made only to the landlord, mortgage holder or utility company. We regret that we cannot make reimbursement payments to you.

Is my last lab report proof that I have HIV?

People who are HIV-negative can have low immunity for other reasons, so a lab report with low results, by itself, does not prove HIV infection. The HIV+ proof must be in your name, from a physician or clinic. It does not have to be a recent record.

Why must I have an unexpected event to qualify for assistance?

Emergency HOPWA is designed to assist when money you expected to use for shelter had to pay for something unexpected (an emergency). Unexpected events include fires and floods, extensive illness, loss of work or reduced hours at work, emergency car repairs for a car you need to work, expensive prescriptions not covered under another program, etc. — something you could not have predicted nor controlled.

What if there is no unexpected event, but I still need help paying household bills?

One of our services is budget advice. Perhaps with some planning help, you can cover your bills with your current income. Otherwise, your HIV case manager may have additional resources for you.

Car maintenance, having to purchase school supplies in August, buying Christmas gifts, etc. these are expected expenses and do not qualify as unexpected events, no matter how necessary. Summers in Amarillo are hot, and winters can be cold, so higher electric bills due to air conditioning, and higher natural gas bills due to heating are expected. We ask all clients to request balanced billing from your electricity or natural gas supplier or during seasons when electricity or natural gas use is lower, you can pay extra on your utility bills each month; that way you will have savings in the bill before the next heat wave or cold snap arrives.

Why do I have to be listed as a tenant on the lease?

Emergency HOPWA is designed to prevent homelessness. Your name on the lease shows that you have a right to live where you do. It is your home. If your name is not on the lease, the legal tenant can force you to leave, even if you just paid all the rent! If you are not a tenant on the lease, HOPWA cannot prevent homelessness for you.

Why do I need a receipt for last months rent?

The receipt shows you as an established resident at your address, a HOPWA requirement.

Why do I need a past due notice when the lease says rent is due on a certain date? And, why do I need a past due notice when utility bills give a late after date?

In the past, we could predict a need for assistance from the due date on a lease or a utility bill, and prepare a check in advance. HUD directives now require that you present a past due notice for any bill in order for us to assist.

For renters, we recommend that you visit your landlord as soon as you know the rent will be late. Explain your situation, ask him or her to give you a past due notice on the first day the rent is late, and bring this notice to us immediately (we have a form your landlord can use). If you have completed your interview and presented all other documentation for the month, we can give you a promissory letter to take to your landlord that same day. Do not wait for an eviction notice!

For utilities, as soon as you get the first past due notice after the regular bill, bring it to us immediately. If all other documents are received and your interview is complete for the month, we pledge payment that day and your utilities will continue. Do not wait for a cut-off notice!

The HOPWA requirement for a past due notice guarantees that my rent will be late, and the landlord charges late fees. Does HOPWA pay late fees?

HOPWA funds cannot pay late fees, even though the program requires a past due notice and the late fees are a result of that requirement. In our promissory letter to landlords, we tell them exactly how much we will pay and when to expect the check. If you have presented all needed proofs, you can place this letter in your landlords hands the first day the rent is overdue. Our check should arrive within three to ten days.

Why does a utility bill have to be in my name in order for me to receive assistance?

Legally the person named on the utility bill is the one responsible for payment. Todays HOPWA regulations require that we can assist only for utility bills in your name.

Why do I have to present bills in someone elses name, if you will not pay them?

Our contract requires us to obtain proof of all utility bills at your address, even though we cannot pay some or all of them.

Does the Financial Assistance Program cover local telephone service?

Emergency HOPWA applies to rent, mortgage and utility payments. We have asked that local phone service qualify as a utility, but to date that decision has not been granted.

I am a U.S. citizen but people in my home are not legal residents. Do I still qualify?

Yes. However, we may still have to count their income when calculating bill payments.

I know people in need who do not speak English. Can they receive assistance?

PASO has one case manager that is fluent in Spanish. If another language is needed, including ASL, we can make arrangements with advance notice.