For the first time, GMHC now offers housing for homeless people with HIV, which also includes supportive services. Partnering with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) program, it recently took over a contract for 25 units. All of the residents are HIV-positive immigrants who came to the U.S. without legal documentation and every single one of them will automatically become GMHC clients.
According to GMHC’s press statement, some of the residents have gained legal status since moving into the housing, and GMHC is also providing immigration legal services to those pursuing citizenship.
It was announced in June that GMHC would be awarded nearly $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with housing assistance and service programs for low-income survivors of domestic violence who are living with HIV.
This pilot program, called “Safety in Housing,” will serve up to 60 households and place 30 families in transitional or permanent housing. It will also offer rentals to 15 households while providing short-term eviction prevention funds to eight households in New York City every year.
This is a huge victory for those living with HIV in New York City. In many cases, people living with HIV risk losing their housing due to increased medical costs on top of limited income, among other reasons. In fact, a recent survey of GMHC clients showed housing to be a top concern — time and time again.
“I am thrilled to finally have an opportunity to provide housing to a population desperately in need of services,” GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said. “The legal, cultural, public health, and socioeconomic barriers created by the nation's current immigration system have created substantial obstacles for people living with HIV to access treatment and care. It is our belief that housing equals healthcare and this new program will provide residents with the around-the-clock support needed to ensure treatment adherence, while simultaneously providing them with everything from legal services and case management to employment training and hot meals. It is my hope that this program will be the first step in a long-term plan to expand housing opportunities for our clients at GMHC because we refuse to let HIV put people on the streets."