The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday it will award Damien Center more than $2 million to provide housing to low-income people living with HIV.
The funds are part of $41 million in Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS competitive grants that HUD awarded to 20 local governments and non-profit organizations across the country.
The grants are part of HUD’s goal to provide services that are non-stigmatizing, non-discriminatory, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. According to a HUD news release, about half of all people living with HIV in the U.S. will experience housing insecurity at some point after their diagnoses.
Economic disadvantages, poor health and co-occurring health conditions are contributing factors that make it difficult for many people living with HIV to maintain housing. HUD officials noted that HIV/AIDS-related stigma, discrimination and systemic racism “contribute to differences in access to housing and lead to ongoing disparities among racial, ethnic and LGBTQ+ communities.”
Damien Center, a nonprofit organization located just east of downtown, will use the money to serve people 55 and older living with HIV as part of a new program called the Elder Housing Assistance Fund. The program will combine the ideas of “housing as healthcare” and “food as medicine” movements.
In a news release, Damien Center leaders said the organization will take a housing-first approach, “paired with generational competence, harm reduction and holistic care approaches,” to ensure people age 55 and older living with HIV face fewer barriers to housing and health care and experience improvements in health outcomes.
The program will provide tenant-based rental assistance, short-term rent, mortgage and utility assistance as well as other supportive services to 212 households each year.