Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

HIV/AIDS Community Faces Housing Crisis
by Amy Wooten
2007-10-01

This article shared 4185 times since Mon Oct 1, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


If local HIV/AIDS organizations don't receive $1.5 million in ongoing city funding for AIDS housing and rental assistance, 211 low-income, disabled Chicagoans living with HIV/AIDS may face the threat of homelessness and serious risks to their health beginning January 2008.

The local HIV/AIDS housing crisis is not a new problem, and is progressively worsening. Local organizations and Alderman Tom Tunney ( 44th Ward ) are calling for city officials to allocate ongoing funds to help alleviate the high rates of housing instability and homelessness among HIV-positive Chicagoans next year.

'These 211 clients will be at serious risk of homelessness,' AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC ) John Peller said. 'We know that housing is healthcare. When people are housed, they are able to improve their health.'

Federal funding dwindles

Federal funding for AIDS housing, called Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS ( HOPWA ) , has been decreasing. The funds allocated to the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) go to community residences such as Bonaventure House; housing locator and advocacy programs; and rental assistance. The Housing Assistance Program ( HAP ) provides short-term rental assistance and provided long-term assistance until that program was phased out due to decreasing funds.

For fiscal year 2007, Chicago was awarded $5.5 million, and roughly $2.1 million went to HAP programs. This year, 661 households will receive rental assistance; AFC projects 450 will be assisted in 2008. At one point, over 1,000 households received HAP assistance after a one-time bonus for community housing; however, HOPWA funding has been flat, which means fewer people can get the help they need.

HAP funds are projected to decrease 27 percent for 2008, cutting 211 people. According to AFC, $1.5 million from the city would prevent those individuals from losing their assistance; provide rental assistance for more; expand services or beds for community residences; and increase funding for housing locator and advocacy programs.

Broken housing system

When funding decreases, the AIDS housing continuum becomes 'broken,' according to AFC. Those who go from homelessness and hospitalization are put on long waiting lists to get into community residences. Those in such housing can't graduate to owning their own apartment with rental assistance because none is available, and those on assistance can't graduate to living completely on their own.

'The system is completely backed up at this point,' Peller said.

Chicago House's executive director, Stan Sloan, knows that firsthand. Chicago House is a community residence that provides beds and essential services. 'There are waiting lists because people can't graduate to receiving rental assistance,' he told Windy City Times. 'We always have waiting lists.'

Sloan fears what would happen if city dollars aren't provided. 'We've got literally hundreds of people that will become homeless or worse. Give them a toolbox, so by the time they are ready, they can pay their own way and live on their own,' Sloan said. 'It's critical we have a flow into that.'

Housing equals health

The 211 individuals at risk of being cut are low-income, disabled and living with HIV/AIDS. According to AIDS activists, they are not only face housing instability, but also the possible threat of homelessness. In addition, without this basic necessity, positive individuals may not have access to a refrigerator for their medications, a bathroom, clean water, food and more—all of which contribute to their overall health.

'Without housing, we can't have any of the other things,' AFC's Jim Pickett said at a recent town hall meeting hosted by AFC Sept. 11 in order to inform the community about the issue and provide the facts and tools needed to help persuade the city to provide additional dollars. The well-attended event was a way for advocates, clients and agencies to voice their concerns, share ideas and learn.

'Housing is the foundation of health,' AFC housing program director and housing expert Arturo Valvivia-Bendixon said at the meeting. 'It's not just a human issue; it's a public health issue. We believe every human being is sacred and the dignity of every human being is sacred.'

Part of much bigger problem

The immediate crisis is part of a much larger problem of homelessness in Chicago, and the fact is that supply doesn't equal the demand. According to AFC, of the estimated 10,000-15,000 Chicagoans living with HIV/AIDS that need housing assistance, only 1,460 units are available.

According to the National AIDS Housing Coalition, up to two-thirds of people living with HIV/AIDS have a lifetime experience with homelessness or inadequate housing.

The decline in 'affordable' rent in Chicago isn't helping the problem. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has tracked a steady increase in rent in Chicago, and projects prices for one-bedroom apartments and studios to continue to rise for 2008.

The problem worsens when dwindling federal dollars and Chicago's affordable housing crisis are thrown in the mix. 'The demand is always increasing,' CDPH's HOPWA program manager Shirley Nash told Windy City Times. 'It's challenging. We have to just be creative and utilize that money as effectively as we can.'

Local organizations struggle

Organizations, such as Better Existence with HIV ( BEHIV ) struggle to find resources for clients. Housing advocate Michele Olson told Windy City Times that there are fewer landlords to make referrals to as it is, not much in terms of affordable housing out there and expects much worse if funding doesn't become available.

'We have clients on the waiting list anywhere from five or six months, and up to 10 years,' said BEHIV housing manager Cassandra Smith. 'It's depressing for the clients.'

Eric Nelson, BEHIV's executive director, stressed how crucial housing is. 'You can't get to the doctor if you don't have a place to stay,' he said. His housing staff hears stories of clients not taking their medications because they are spending all of their energy finding a place to stay. Unstable housing can also lead to drug dependency, hanging out with the wrong crowds and more.

Olson said, 'They will always choose food, shelter, what have you, over meds.'

Until more funding becomes available, Smith said the agency has to 'pull rabbits out of other hats,' such as working to build rapport between landlords and clients to get application fees and credit checks waived, etc. 'It's challenging, but it is definitely rewarding when they are housed,' she said. 'We've had clients excel so much as a result.'

At the town hall, Jennifer Williams of Interfaith House said that each year, the organization has to turn away roughly 300 individuals, and their list is months long. 'When we do get to them, we don't know where they go,' she said.

Clients and former clients speak up

BEHIV client Timothy Jones has had his life dramatically impacted due to housing. After losing his home and career, he found himself living on the streets, 'just giving up.' Through word of mouth, he was able to get the assistance he needed to get a roof over his head. And with 'hard work,' Jones was able to become drug-free, obtain a job, build credit and take care of his health. 'It's the best thing that has ever happened to me,' Jones told Windy City Times. 'Things are getting better and better. I'll be 52 [ soon ] , and I feel younger then that.'

When asked where Jones would be without that assistance, he simply stated, 'In the ground. There's no other way to put it.'

Evany Turk, who now runs a program at Chicago House, was diagnosed in 2001. A couple of years later, she was evicted and walking the streets pregnant. For her, stable housing helped her deal with the 'baggage' that came with HIV. Now, she helps others that are in the position she was once in to find employment. Turk is not only giving back, but has a home, her health and is preparing to get married. 'All of that is because I was able to be stably housed,' she told Windy City Times.

Many clients who attended the town hall also provided personal stories about how housing helped them manage their bills, overcome addiction, give back to the community, take medication and stay alive.

Taking action

'Without housing, I probably wouldn't be standing here,' said National AIDS Housing Coalition board member Debra Fleming at the Sept. 11 town hall. She encouraged attendees to become involved, and said you don't have to have HIV or be in need of housing to become an advocate.

Also at the meeting was young hip-hop J. Xavier, who appeared at the AIDS Run & Walk. 'You don't have to be a victim to be an advocate, but just have a voice,' he stressed.

In October, the mayor's budget will be introduced, and budget hearings and public testimony will take place. The final budget will be passed in November, and the 2008 fiscal year begins Jan. 1. Until then, organizations and activists say action is needed to convince the city that ongoing funds are crucial.

Strategies discussed included writing to your representatives ( city, state and national ) ; becoming very informed and getting personal stories out in the open for people to hear. Activists also advised people to spread the word and to become a part of the process by registering to vote. More information can be found at www.aidschicago.org .


This article shared 4185 times since Mon Oct 1, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Kinsey Institute exhibiting iconic Tom Fox HIV/AIDS photo series 2022-08-05
- An exhibition of 60 iconic photographs documenting Indiana University alumnus Tom Fox's battle with AIDS in the late 1980s will hang in the Grand Hall of Maxwell Hall on the Indiana University-Bloomington campus. "Wild Horse Running: ...


Gay News

Black AIDS Institute seeks president/CEO 2022-07-27
- The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) has partnered with Coleman Lew Canny Bowen, a retained executive search firm, to conduct a search for a president/CEO. This position reports directly to the board of directors and leads a ...


Gay News

Registration for the 31st Annual AIDS Run & Walk only $24 for 24 hours on July 24 2022-07-23
-- From a press release - (Chicago, IL) AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) announces the return of its popular $24 for 24 promotion on July 24 for discounted registration for the 31st annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago (ARWC) taking place Oct. 2 ...


Gay News

Fifteen organizations receive funding from Illinois African American HIV/AIDS Response Act 2022-07-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — JULY 22, 2022 — Thirteen African American-led community-based organizations (of 15 possible as the maximum) in Illinois have been awarded grants ranging up to $500,000+ from the ...


Gay News

White House Office of National AIDS Policy hosts historic Prosecutor Roundtable on HIV Criminal Law 2022-07-08
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON — On June 30, 2022, the Center for HIV Law & Policy (CHLP) and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), in partnership with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, brought together the nation's ...


Gay News

Sen. Baldwin, colleagues applaud confirmation of Global AIDS Coordinator, push for global LGBTQI+ rights 2022-07-02
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen.Tammy Baldwin joined her colleagues in congratulating John Nkengasong on his recent confirmation as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. The lawmakers also urged Ambassador Nkengasong to ensure ...


Gay News

Out at CHM: Panelists discuss HIV/AIDS' continued impact on dance community 2022-06-25
- The Chicago History Museum (CHM) hosted a June 23 panel with doctors and dancers who shared their experiences with the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as ideas for continuing to address the disease today. Following the discussion, ...


Gay News

CDC reminds people that National HIV Testing Day is June 27 2022-06-24
-- From a press release - June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to emphasize the importance of HIV testing and make sure everyone knows their status so they can take steps to improve their health, regardless of the ...


Gay News

100 HIV groups call on Congress to fund Biden's National PrEP Program 2022-06-16
-- From a press release - (New York City, NY) Wednesday, June 15, 2022—PrEP4All, Inc., along with 100 HIV organizations, are leading the push for Congress to fund a National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Program that would ...


Gay News

TPAN to host Closing Ceremony for Ride For Life Chicago June 19 2022-06-15
-- From a press release - Chicago, IL—TPAN will host the Closing Ceremony of the Ride For Life Chicago on Sunday, June 19 at Foster Beach from noon-5pm. Cyclists will complete their 200-, 100-, and 50-mile rides to converge at the beach ...


Gay News

Governor signs bills expanding access to HIV- and AIDS-related care and prevention 2022-06-14
-- From a press release - Chicago—Governor JB Pritzker signed HB4430 and HB5549 into law today, removing barriers to access for HIV and AIDS care and prevention. HB4430 allows pharmacists to dispense both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs (PrEP and PEP) without ...


Gay News

AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to now take place Oct. 2 2022-06-08
- The 31st Annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago will now take place on Sunday, October 2. The annual event helps raise awareness and funds for individuals who are living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS across Chicagoland. ...


Gay News

Community and politicians gather to open the AIDS Memorial Garden 2022-06-02
- Chicagoans gathered at the lakefront the morning of June 2 for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the city's long-awaited AIDS Memorial Garden. "There are so many ones who have passed who have come to witness ...


Gay News

amfAR gala is highlight of Cannes Film Festival, raises $19M 2022-05-28
- The amfAR gala, the highlight of the famed Cannes Film Festival, returned as a glamorous in-person event May 26 at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France, according to a press release. amfAR, The Foundation for ...


Gay News

Howard Brown Health unveils Pride mural at Walsh Park 2022-05-26
- On May 25, Howard Brown Health unveiled a mural celebrating Pride month, in collaboration with local artist David Anthony Geary. The unveiling took place at Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave. Wintrust Bank's ongoing community partnership ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.