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Los Angeles Housing Needs Study

Study on the Housing Needs of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles, California

June 10, 1999

The City of Los Angeles commissioned Shelter Partnership, Inc. to conduct a study and prepare a report on the housing and social service needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS throughout the County of Los Angeles. This study is only the second major study in the nation to examine the housing needs of low-income people with HIV or AIDS in a metropolitan area. The first study of homelessness among people with HIV/AIDS was conducted by Philadelphia's Office of Housing and Community Development in 1996. Communities that undertake these needs assessments and plans have sought to: describe the housing needs of Persons with AIDS (PWAs); identify and evaluate the available housing and services; identify gaps in housing and services; develop strategies for filling gaps in housing and services; coordinate Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) and Ryan White CARE Act funding activities; and prioritize future funding allocations.

The LA study broadly defines "homelessness" to include not only people living on the streets or in a car, abandoned building or homeless shelter, but also those who once lived on their own but had to "double up" with family or friends.

Surveys were conducted by Shelter Partnership staff of clients, housing providers and service providers. Data from 61 housing programs were collected: 34 social services and health care programs, 785 PWAs at 77 housing, social services, and health care sites from July through December 1997.

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Demographics of the PWA Survey Respondents (selected findings)

  • Thirty-seven percent of the PWA survey respondents were Latino/Hispanic, thirty percent were African American, twenty-eight percent were White, four percent were Native American/American Indian, and three percent were Asian/Pacific Islander.

  • Sixty-five percent of the surveyed PWAs had been homeless at some point in their lives and had experienced homelessness and average of 2.3 times in the past 3 years. Fifty percent of the PWAs who were not currently homeless believed that they were at risk of becoming homeless.

  • Fifty-three percent of the PWA survey respondents had to move at least once since becoming HIV Positive. The two most significant factors that prevented PWAs from getting housing were not having enough money to pay for housing and not knowing what was available or how to access available housing.

  • About one-half (52%) of the PWA survey respondents had never applied for any type of housing assistance or subsidy. Of these, eighty percent had received or were currently receiving some type of housing assistance or subsidy.

  • The 61 surveyed housing programs operated 545 beds for PWAs. Of these, 349 (64%) were located in the City of Los Angeles and 196 (36.5%) were located in the County of Los Angeles.

Housing Preferences of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS

Almost half (47%) of the PWA survey respondents lived in an apartment, condominium, townhouse, or house. Seventeen percent lived in a licensed AIDS residential facility; eight percent lived in a homeless shelter; and two percent were living on the streets, in a car, or in an abandoned or condemned building.

The three most important neighborhood features to the PWA survey respondents were liking the neighborhood, accessibility to public transportation, and being near the doctor or health care. The building features that were most important to the PWA survey were building amenities; individual bathroom, kitchen, etc.; and individual sleeping spaces. The three program features that were most important were affordability, no waiting list, and sober living environment. According to the PWAs, the five most important social services in improving their quality of lives and in allowing them to remain in their housing were: food, financial assistance, medical care, transportation, and case management.

Developing HIV/AIDS Housing

The surveyed housing, social services, and health care providers and PWAs were all in agreement regarding the top four housing options most needed by persons living with HIV/AIDS: (1) long-term rental/mortgage assistance to keep PWAs in their own homes, (2) subsidized independent living in an apartment with linkages to social services, 3) transitional housing, and (4) emergency shelter.

Recommendations

The following are some recommendations resulting from the surveys and interviews conducted. The recommendations are not listed by priority or weight but in order of the report sections.

  1. Increase the financial resources available to PWAs so that they can improve their quality of life and remain housed.
  2. Increase the availability of substance abuse treatment programs to poor persons.
  3. Increase homeless prevention activities so that PWAs remain housed.
  4. Increase the awareness of PWAs regarding available housing and how to access the available housing.
  5. Increase the ability of PWAs with mental illness, substance addiction, and dementia, and those who are chronically homeless to access housing.
  6. Increase the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing beds for PWAs.
  7. Determine if the following subpopulations need more access to HIV/AIDS housing programs: families, men with children, pregnant teens, runaways and homeless youth, women with children, and emancipated youth.
  8. Determine why PWAs are moving frequently and what, if any, actions should be taken to slow this movement.
  9. Increase the financial resources available to PWAs so that they can access affordable housing.
  10. Facilitate the movement of PWAs into appropriate housing when their health declines and increase the housing options available to PWAs in their communities.
  11. Consider the following features when developing new housing: (a) neighborhood features: accessibility to public transportation, near doctor or health care, and low crime rate; (b) building features: building amenities, individual sleeping spaces, and paid utilities; (c) program features: affordability, no waiting list, and quick intake/application process.
  12. Ensure the availability of the following services to PWAs: food, financial assistance, medical care, transportation, and case management.
  13. Ensure the availability of the following housing options to PWAs: (1) long-term rental/mortgage assistance to keep their own homes and (2) subsidized independent living in an apartment with linkages to social services.
  14. Increase the awareness of the need for HIV/AIDS specific housing.
  15. All stakeholders need to engage in planning processes that maximize resources available to persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Used by permission from a January 1999 article by Rene Rizo, Project Manager, Shelter Partnership, Inc.

To receive a copy of the Executive Summary, call Shelter Partnership at (213) 688-2188. To receive a copy of the 175 page report, call the HOPWA Section at the Los Angeles Housing Department at (213) 367-9263.



  
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