Going Non-Public

As jitters over the future of federal assistance increase, obtaining non-public funding has become a top priority for many of Austin's AIDS service providers that face funding shortfalls. Some have found unusual solutions. Here's a run-down of how a handful of local agencies stay afloat.

* DOING IT YOURSELF: Positive Threads, a newsletter for people with HIV, and Faith Home, a home for infants with HIV, are driven by the passions of their founders and directors. Jim Thurman, founder of Positive Threads, and Hy and Linda Traurig, founders of Faith Home, have used their own money to provide their services. Both organizations operate out of the homes of their directors. Thurman says publishing Positive Threads takes precedence over paying his rent. When the Traurigs started Faith Home in 1988, they continued working full-time jobs elsewhere to support their more than full-time jobs at the home. By the end of 1991, they both quit their day jobs and became dependent on contributions as well as state money that pays for the care of the children that the state places in the home.

* CHURCHES: InterACT, a non-denominational church- and temple-based volunteer organization, draws many of its volunteers and some of its contributions from local congregations. InterACT Executive Director David Smith says it's hard to ask congregations for money. "They're already giving their time." The HIV Wellness Center, which connects people with AIDS to alternative care services, moved into a new home on the grounds of St. George's Episcopal Church in June. They got a 10-year, rent-free lease of a vacant Victorian home in exchange for renovating it, at a cost of around $170,000.

* THIRD-PARTY PAYMENTS: Services that provide direct health care often get money from insurance companies, Medicaid, or Medicare. But AIDS-care facilities often don't fit those models. As a licensed hospital, Christopher House is eligible for insurance money -- but ineligible for Ryan White CARE Act funding. So the 15-bed facility faces the same changes in the way health care is provided that larger hospitals do. "Managed care is really difficult on us," Executive Director Carol Cody says, explaining that the needs of AIDS patients, who undergo cycles of hospitalization, are different from those of the average patient.

* FUNDRAISING: Several groups do fund-raisers. And often they do them together, as with the $3 million-a-year AIDS Services of Austin sharing revenues with smaller agencies such as the $300,000-a-year Informe-SIDA. The David Powell Clinic, which is run by the city, started a non-profit arm so it could start holding fund-raisers and accepting gifts in 1993. So far, according to director Dwayne Haught, the booty has been just $2,500 from one fundraiser -- and that money was split with another organization. "Fundraising is one way to raise money," Haught says, "but you have to have a staff to do it." -- G.M.

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