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AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) is pleased to announce the launch of Hotel to Home, a project using available hotels in the region to serve people living with HIV who are experiencing homelessness. The goal of the project is to protect people living with HIV from COVID-19 by immediately moving them into hotels and then quickly connecting them to permanent housing options. The project, funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health, will improve both individual and community health while decreasing homelessness in the Chicagoland area. AFC expects to serve 70 people by the end of the year through Hotel to Home.
“When people living with HIV are experiencing homelessness, they face huge obstacles each and every day. Taking medications, finding transportation to medical appointments, and eating healthy food are often impossible to prioritize. These factors can put them at risk of poor health outcomes,” said Pete Toepfer, Senior Vice President of Housing for AFC. “But we know housing is health care. Not only will providing housing protect people living with HIV from COVID-19, it will help them stay healthy in many other facets of their lives.”
In addition to the hotel rooms, AFC will be adding an estimated 45 units of permanent housing to the HIV housing system. The permanent units will be braided with the hotel project to ensure all participants who enter the hotels have a permanent housing option in addition to the temporary safe place to stay. The combination of these resources puts us a step closer to ensuring everyone living with HIV has a place to call home where they can manage their health and thrive.
“When people living with HIV take their medications and become healthy, their viral load becomes undetectable. New research shows that when someone’s viral load is undetectable, they can’t transmit HIV sexually to their partners,” said Brandi Calvert, Senior Director of Housing Operations at AFC. “The housing we are providing will help prevent new cases of HIV in the community by keeping people living with HIV healthy and will advance the goals of Getting to Zero Illinois, which aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.”
The hotel and permanent housing opportunities were made possible by grants from the Chicago Department of Public Health using funds from the federal COVID CARES Act as well as Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funding.
Aisha Davis, AFC’s Director of Policy, said, “AFC appreciates Mayor Lightfoot’s move to deploy funding to help people living with HIV. We also recognize the work that the Illinois Congressional delegation has done to increase funding for the HOPWA program. We are hopeful that our representatives and elected officials will continue to advocate for ongoing support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as systemic change that addresses the remaining inequities in Black and Latinx communities.”
Referrals to the Hotel to Home program will come from HOPWA service providers around the Chicagoland area. Those interested in participating in the program should contact their service provider for more information. If you are not already connected to services, please contact AFC at 312.922.2322 for connections to housing resources.