Due to expiring government funds, a much-needed and utilized program for those living with HIV was set for closure at the end of August 2017 — that is, until the community rallied to save it.
The program is one of many provided by Westside Community Services of San Francisco, a mental health nonprofit which has been serving the local community for over 50 years now. Westside is well-known due to its residence within a historic Victorian home called the Mish House.
The HIV program that was scheduled to end had been providing crucial home-care and case management services to patients who are unable to leave their homes for 30 years. After news of the program’s closure was published in an article, Westside received a significant increase in funding, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and District 8 supervisor, Jeff Sheehy.
Thanks to Sheehy and other community leaders who stepped up to save the programs, they will not only survive but expand in the year ahead. According to SF Weekly, the organization’s budget for average monthly client care will increase by more than 50 percent with the additional funding.
But Sheehy insists it was the people who motivated him to act. “Almost immediately, I heard from the community. [The program’s closure] was very alarming to patients and clients,” said Sheehy, who also happens to be San Francisco’s first openly HIV-positive supervisor.
“All of us working together were able to get the changes at the state to rescue Westside,” Sheehy says. “The budget that’s just moved forward includes the increase in state reimbursement rates in a financially sustainable fashion.
“Westside HIV/AIDS programs will continue to provide services because of a rate increase,” said Westside Community Services CEO, Dr. Mary Ann Jones, “Westside will receive additional funding, and more importantly, our clients will receive more services.”