Housing is an Essential Part of Healthcare

November 17, 2022

Happy holidays from the AFC Family! We hope you and your loved ones are enjoying a beautiful season filled with laughter, love, joy and togetherness! With winter around the corner and COVID in a new phase, like many, we are looking forward to being home for the holidays and spending time with dear friends.  

We invite you to join AFC in uniting to end Homelessness in Illinois. We know that Housing is an essential part of healthcare and that having stable housing leads to better health outcomes.  

Our remarkable colleague, Brandi Calvert, is at the core of assisting our clients and partners in finding housing, as well as securing housing units throughout the city. Recently promoted to Vice President, Housing Strategy at AFC, Brandi’s work in housing justice started in 2010 at Heartland Alliance. Drawing on her 12-year experience, she passionately works to create long term housing solutions for Chicagoans. Brandi shares, “It is abundantly clear that when people have stable housing, they fare better in terms of health outcomes. Housing is key to accessing and maintaining necessary preventive and routine care to obtain viral suppression or other positive health indicators.”  

Brandi elaborates that once a person has obtained a safe home, they can focus on other opportunities to thrive, such as their mental and physical health. For example, a person is more likely to take their HIV medications or antipsychotics consistently when they have a safe place to store their medicines, cook healthy meals and make regular appointments with various health providers. 

Hailing from a small town in southern Mississippi, Brandi was raised with a keen awareness of injustices linked to being Black from a very young age, she states, “There was no way to not develop an interest in social and racial justice issues early on in life.” 

Brandi explains that the “shadow of redlining still lingers” in Chicago. Redlining is a racist home lending practice outlawed in 1968, but its legacy in Chicago drives segregation today and puts vital neighborhood services out of reach for many residents who are poor and Black or Latine. Good health outcomes depend on how well-resourced neighborhoods are with well-paying jobs, housing, schools, healthy foods and quality health care. At the very core of changing the injustices caused by systemic racism is a safe and stable home. Brandi knows that “housing is key to ending the HIV epidemic and to help people become more stable; it’s at the foundation of everything.”

How can the housing crisis be addressed today? Brandi is very clear that more housing units are needed for people living with and vulnerable to HIV. Currently, AFC manages 1,600 housing units across all programs, but there are 1,090 people on AFC’s HIV housing waiting list. Despite the great demand, Brandi remains hopeful. She reflects that during the pandemic more resources became available: “Seeing more flexible funding appear early in the COVID pandemic gave me a ton of hope. We were able to be creative to meet participant needs. Now we must work to advocate for ongoing flexibility.” 

Summing it up, Brandi is hopeful for a brighter future, not only for AFC’s housing clients, but on a more personal level, for her two young daughters: 

“I hope that my kids and their peers have a more level playing field due to what appears to be a movement towards equity in all forms. As a mother raising future Black women, this work is essential for them. The energy and activism embedded in our young people also gives me hope.” 

Please click here to make a donation to AFC so we can continue to provide supportive housing options for all of our clients. 



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