Meeting the Moment – HIV Homelessness
Written By: Akello Alay & Alisha Vankirk
The Aliveness Project is pleased to announce a Rapid Rehousing Program for individuals who are living with HIV. This program is centered around the Housing First approach, which promotes permanent housing to individuals who are experiencing homelessness before addressing other life necessities (mental health, employment, medical needs, substance dependency etc.). Goals for this program include helping individuals to obtain housing quickly, promoting self-sufficiency, and maintaining housing stability (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2020). Grace Olson, housing case manager, shares “one of my favorite parts of this work is collaborating with clients to find housing. Folks have shown incredible tenacity and resilience when it comes to tracking down properties on tight deadlines (e.g., housing vouchers expiring past a certain date). Knowing how much work clients devote to the process, it’s incredible to witness and share in the excitement of an approved apartment application and move-in.”
Rapid Rehousing Programs recognizes that individuals who are at the greatest risk of experiencing homelessness are those who battle with mental health, substance use disorders, shared syringes, and who engage in high-risk sex. Therefore, the Aliveness Project’s Rapid Rehousing Program collaborates with Clare Housing, Rainbow Health, and HCMC to provide resources for housing stability, mental health, and medical needs. The Rapid Rehousing Program case managers will provide assistance with nutritional/food supports, mental health, and accessibility to medical resources.
In the beginning collaboration between landlords, rental owners, and the Rapid Rehousing Program case managers would include the development of a relationship, regular check-ins, and financial support. For the first six to nine months case managers will help with rental assistance. Following those initial months, the case managers will assist individuals with developing relationships between themselves and their landlords/rental owners to help them become more self-sufficient.
When landlords and rental owners collaborate with us, we are in a better position to address other life necessities. The goals of collaboration between landlords, rental owners, and case managers is to build stronger community connections. Those connections will lead to maintaining better self-care and well-being. The maintenance of better self-care and well-being are two of the main goals housing stability. Clients who have been housed have a greater probability of maintaining an undetectable HIV status. Once undetectable individuals cannot pass the HIV virus to a sexual partner.
There are many challenges ahead of us when locating housing resources for individuals living with HIV, so we are hopeful and appreciative for community partners and donors. We believe this Rapid Rehousing Program will change the lives of many individuals in our community. To help support the work and mission of this program please become a partner today by contacting Ray Camper.