November 6, 2006

J.R. came to ASC depressed and demoralized. His housing situation was, in his words, "unlivable." His tiny studio apartment suffered from cracked walls, unreliable heating, and a rat infestation. "It hurt me emotionally to live there," he recalls.

Fortunately, ASC was able to help J.R. improve his housing situation. "ASC helped me search for a new place to live and supported me throughout the process until we found a one-bedroom apartment beyond my wildest dreams," he says.

It seems obvious that every person should have safe, affordable housing. But for people living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses, housing is literally a matter of survival. "It's the number one priority," explains ASC Senior Case Manager Antoinette Desrosiers. "If you're on the streets, you can't keep your doctor's appointments, you can't adhere to your medications, you can't function. Housing gives people stability, peace of mind, and control over their lives."

In 2006 alone, ASC has helped place more than 75 people living with HIV/AIDS in permanent housing. This includes people who have endured long-term homelessness, become homeless due to job loss, or lost housing due to HIV discrimination.

Attaining housing is a complicated process, and ASC helps clients every step of the way. We make it easy for clients get their applications in order, prep for housing interviews, and, where needed, obtain proper interview attire through ASC's Wonderful Wearables Clothing Room. To make their new house feel more like a home, ASC even provides a gift certificate with which clients can purchase cookware, bedding, and other basics.

"To turn their key in their own door and say 'this is home' means so much to our clients," says Senior Case Manager Marcia Deer. "Their medical conditions are often very difficult, but once they have housing, their living conditions greatly improve. Once a client is housed, you can see the difference—they go to their medical appointments, take care of themselves, and develop self-esteem. After awhile, they don't even need or want help, because they're independent and have rebuilt their lives. That's success! It's a hill, but when you reach the top, you feel great about what you can do to help people change their lives."

For J.R., the difference has been profound. He's now in college and holding down a job, while staying on track with his HIV medications and health care regimen. "It feels fantastic to come home to a place that's safe and comfortable, where I can rest, relax, and be myself. Having this is definitely helping me maintain my health and keep a positive attitude about life."

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