The AIDS Housing Alliance of San Francisco, in addition to helping connect HIV-positive people with accepting landlords and roommates, is working to help HIVers achieve what must have once seemed an unattainable dream--owning their own homes.
'Home ownership presents the ultimate safe harbor for people with HIV,' says Brian Basinger, cofounder and director of the housing group, formed in 2004 by HIV-positive Bay Area residents.
The organization held its first HIV Home Ownership Seminar in October 2004, and it drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 participants. Panelists discussed an overview of resources available to potential home-buyers, mortgage packages for disabled people, below-market home ownership opportunities, and estate planning. Basinger says the program proved so successful that it has since morphed into a larger, four-part financial seminar held each month that helps participants develop budgets, begin saving, repair their credit, and access city programs to help them secure rental housing or purchase their own homes.
'Home ownership is not only the American dream, it also helps HIV-positive people by getting them to think about tomorrow, to think about their futures,' says Basinger, who has AIDS, is disabled, and bought his home a year ago through assistance programs. 'It helps break through this big psychological block a lot of us live under and gets us to stop dying and start living again.'