WASHINGTON -- Praising Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for his leadership on the issue, Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros yesterday awarded Baltimore nearly $1.1 million for a city program that helps people infected with the AIDS virus find homes.
"There isn't a more competent or more compassionate mayor of a city in the United States than Mayor Schmoke in every respect," Mr. Cisneros said at a news conference.
The secretary of Housing and Urban Development noted that Baltimore's program, which the mayor has championed, is one of the first to address the specific problem of homeless people living with the human immunodeficiency virus or with AIDS.
HUD also awarded Maryland a $1 million grant for a similar housing program for people elsewhere in the state. In addition, HUD doled out $18.4 million to other programs nationwide.
Baltimore's program enlists private nonprofit groups such as the Health Education Resource Organization Day Center and the Black Education AIDS Project to provide homes, counseling, substance-abuse treatment and other assistance for people with HIV.
Of the 21 programs awarded funds around the country, Baltimore received the fifth-largest grant, behind San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City and Yonkers, N.Y.
The award is intended to help about 500 people in Baltimore infected with HIV and 135 of their family members. Nearly 2,900 people are living with AIDS in Baltimore; 33,700 are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to a report prepared for HUD.
Mr. Schmoke, the only mayor at the news conference, said he was proud of the HUD grant because of the hard work put into designing the city's program.
The mayor also said that Mr. Cisneros and President Clinton "are fighting the fight to continue these . . . funds when there were many who wanted to turn their back on this problem."
The Republican-led House approved a bill that would have rescinded $30 million from the federal housing-assistance program, but Mr. Clinton vetoed the bill.
HUD's $1 million grant to the state of Maryland is planned to help people living with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland. The money will fund a program that makes use of local and state health departments to supply health care and housing to 560 people infected with HIV and 437 of their relatives.
By having support services around Maryland, "We really have circled the problem of HIV infection within the state," Martin P. Wasserman, secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at the news conference.
At the news conference, Douglas Garriott, a Baltimore resident, stood out from the crowd of blue suits and dark dresses in his purple striped T-shirt and blue jeans.
Mr. Garriott, who has been infected with HIV for 13 years, is a founding member of Housing Unlimited Group Inc., which since 1991 has helped those who are HIV positive find homes in Baltimore. But two years ago, Mr. Garriott's companion died of AIDS, and he could not afford to keep his home. "I was in danger of being out on the street," he said. "This program helped me find a place to live and it's been great."