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Oh, Give Me a Home...

Oh, Give Me a Home...


In Alabama'where the median income for HIVers is less than $8,000 a year'solving the housing needs of HIV-positive Lee County residents has taken a uniquely local form of cooperation and ingenuity. A group of Auburn University students has joined with two area AIDS service organizations to construct a transitional housing campus for low-income HIVers. The group created a home for two HIV-positive women and their children out of a pair of discarded corrugated metal shipping containers and a three-bedroom men's home whose walls were constructed from hay bales. The housing units were designed and largely built by students at Auburn's College of Architecture, Design, and Construction. The shipping containers'once used to transport foreign goods to the United States but then discarded after their arrival'and hay bales were chosen by the students because they're both inexpensive and plentiful, according to Auburn student Michael Grote. The three-bedroom men's home opened in September 2003; the home for HIV-positive women and their children was completed this year, as was a community annex. 'The housing stock is so pitiful, especially in rural counties. This enables people to stay in their communities, where they have support and families,' says Kathie Hiers, chief executive of AIDS Alabama, which purchased the half-acre plot of land for the project. East Alabama AIDS Outreach provides supportive services for the HIVers living in the transitional housing. While the construction project clearly benefits local HIVers who desperately need safe and reliable housing, the Auburn students say they also gained valuable insight through their volunteer work. 'In school you're taught to draw and all of that and what architecture is. But doing the project has taught me a lot more, because I've been able to interact with the client,' says Carie Roddy, who just received a master's degree from Auburn. 'I love being able to say that I did something that they really need.'

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