January 29, 2013
Tina Counterman, a social worker at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center's (SHRC) AIDS Care Program, Midland, Michigan. emphasizes the importance of stable housing for individuals with HIV infection or AIDS. She explains that without proper housing, patients are not likely to have access to adequate treatment. In her role, she connects individuals with HIV infection or AIDS to treatment and funding to pay for treatment, transportation to medical care, and assistance with finding stable housing and testing. Counterman regrets that, although persons with HIV infection or AIDS are living longer, there is still stigma about the disease.
To find stable housing, Counterman may seek out both short- and long-term housing solutions. Short-term assistance covers crises, such as help with mortgage and utility payments and repairs, and long-term assistance refers to finding the patient permanent housing. A federal program called Tenant-Based Rental Assistance pays part of the rent and will continue for two years even if the individual has to move.
Midland County reports 11 residents diagnosed with HIV infection and 14 with AIDS. The typical patient is young, with no work history, and living on a Supplemental Security Income of $698 a month. The city provides very little housing for persons under age 65. Funds for housing under SHRC's AIDS Care Program originate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Michigan Department of Community Health. The Ryan White Care Act pays for case management and furnishes the copayments for medical care, transportation, and mental health services.
SHRC provides 10 counties with behavioral health services, including substance abuse, mental health and specialized programs for women, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care management. Also, the SHRC AIDS Care Program participates in the Midland County Continuum of Care, a collaboration of more than 20 agencies working to prevent homelessness by supplying housing-related services to the homeless or persons living in substandard housing.