In 1991, ActionAIDS hired its first housing counselor and, since then, the department has grown to six housing specialists who provide housing services to over 600 individuals and families each year.
ActionAIDS Housing Department is dedicated to reducing and preventing homelessness, as well as promoting economic self-sufficiency among people living with HIV/AIDS. Housing services include housing counseling to locate and access safe, stable and affordable housing options, assistance with budgeting, life skills, credit counseling and applying for utility assistance programs.
ActionAIDS believes that housing is a right, not a privilege. Housing specialists work with clients to develop a goal plan and to identify interim steps to meet the ultimate goal of attaining safe and secure affordable housing. Transitional housing is often an interim step to obtaining permanent housing.
Individuals with drug and alcohol and/or mental-health needs are assisted with securing housing programs that offer support for these issues in addition to housing. The agency supports a harm-reduction model, embodying the notion of meeting people where they are to help the consumer create a goal plan that is incremental and manageable. ActionAIDS does not have emergency housing, so housing specialists help the individuals access emergency shelter through the city’s shelters.
In 2004, ActionAIDS opened Casa Nueva Vida, which consists of 12 apartments offering supportive housing to homeless families living with HIV. Two years later, ActionAIDS introduced the Positive Living housing program, which provides subsidized housing to 22 individuals and families who are homeless and asymptomatic. In addition to providing housing, both programs require participants to receive case management and case manager assistant services. Vocational services, life-skills training and in-home supports are available.
These programs seek to help residents develop and/or hone skills that will help them thrive in independent living. Our newest housing program, funded since late 2010, is the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program. The HOPWA program is for independent housing and provides subsidies for affordable housing for 19 people living with AIDS.
How would someone access housing services at ActionAIDS? The housing department holds bi-monthly housing-information sessions for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as for providers who would like to learn about housing opportunities and services offered by the ActionAIDS housing department. These information sessions are mandatory for those who would like to receive housing services through ActionAIDS.
The housing information sessions are held 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at ActionAIDS’ main office, 1216 Arch St., sixth floor, and 10 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at ActionAIDS’ north office, 2641 N. Sixth St.
After attending one of the housing information sessions, the client’s case manager can submit a housing referral to the housing department. Next, the housing intake specialist will contact the individual to complete the initial housing assessment. After the housing assessment is completed, the client is placed on our waiting list to be assigned to a housing specialist.
We make every attempt to assign people as soon as possible. Our waiting list is on a first-come, first-served basis; however, priority is given to referrals from individuals who are homeless, fire victims and those fleeing domestic-violence situations. For more information, contact ActionAIDS at 215-981-0088.