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Housing Options for HIV-Positive People in the U.S.

January 30, 2017

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Table of Contents

Getting Started

Having a safe and affordable place to live is important to everyone's quality of life. When you are living with HIV (HIV+), it is also an important part of taking care of your overall health. Having stable housing, clean water, bathrooms, refrigeration, and food makes it much easier to take your HIV drugs and stay healthy.

Finding affordable housing can sometimes be difficult. A good place to begin is a housing assistance program or AIDS service organization (ASO) in your area. To find a local ASO, use this Health Services Directory. The Housing Opportunities for Persons Living with AIDS (HOPWA) is a housing resource for people living with HIV and has programs in many US cities. To see if there is a HOPWA program in your area, visit the HOPWA website.

Once you find a housing program or ASO, call and ask to speak with the "housing search advocate" or "someone to help me look for housing." The housing advocate can explain the different options available to you and help you with applications.

General Information


Different housing programs help people in different situations. For example, some only help single people and some help only families. Ask your housing advocate what the eligibility requirements are for the programs in your area. Eligibility requirements are those factors that enable a person to be considered for entry into housing programs. If you do not qualify for the program by meeting its eligibility requirements, you will not be considered for the program. It is important to know that, even if you meet all of a program's eligibility requirements, you may not be accepted into the program (e.g., they may not have space).

Other examples of eligibility requirements include:

  • Income level
  • HIV status and/or the stage of your illness
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Other health problems, disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse problems
  • Criminal record

What you pay in rent depends on what type of housing you find. If you get housing through a government program, the program will provide some kind of help with rent. Generally you will pay about one third of your household income towards rent and utilities and the program will pay the rest.

Sometimes people are discriminated against when they are looking for housing because of things like race, sexual orientation, physical disability (including HIV), or source of income. If you think this is the case, let your housing advocate know and ask about assistance from a legal advocate.

Unless you are applying for housing specifically for people living with HIV, you are NOT required to disclose your HIV status to the housing agency. You may need a letter from a public agency or your health care provider stating you have a disability, but it does NOT need to include your HIV status.

Housing Options

Different housing options are available in different places. Check to see what is available in your community.

Emergency Housing

  • Provided by shelters, churches, community groups, YMCAs, YWCAs
  • Allows you to stay for 30 to 90 days
  • May be able to find you more permanent housing
  • Sometimes does not allow you to stay in the facility during the day

Transitional Housing

  • Housing you can stay in for a short period of time (up to three years), so it is important to have a plan in place for moving on to a more permanent residence
  • These programs can help you find permanent housing while you are living there
  • Sometimes you have to share an apartment or share a kitchen and bathroom
  • Some programs are just for people living with HIV and/or people in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse

HIV Residential Program

  • Permanent housing for people living with HIV
  • You can stay there as long as you pay your rent and follow the rules
  • Some programs provide you with your own apartment
  • Some programs provide you with your own bedroom and you have to share a bathroom and a kitchen
  • A residential program is suitable if you are looking for a lot of support and help
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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.

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