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Housing Options for HIV+ People

March 2013

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HIV Scattered-Site Housing

HIV-specific housing programs called "scattered-site housing" are agencies that refer you to a building or help you find an apartment in the community.

  • A social service agency rents the apartment to you or you may have the lease in your name
  • Sometimes can assist with telephone, heating, electric and moving costs
  • May provide HIV/AIDS case management services
  • You can stay in your apartment as long as you pay the rent and follow the program rules

Public Housing Authorities

Public housing authorities offer several different housing assistance programs for low-income people and persons living with disabilities (including HIV). Not every community has a housing authority; however, many larger cities do.

Housing authorities provide multiple types of assistance:

  • Housing in buildings they own -- "public housing"
  • Rental assistance subsidies (help paying rent) -- subsidies are not attached to a particular apartment or building. You need to find an apartment in the community and the subsidy helps to pay the rent and utilities.
  • Project-based -- units are set aside in buildings

Eligibility for these programs is based on your family's household size and income, and in some cases, your current living status (if homeless) and age (for senior housing). If social security is your only source of income, you are probably eligible.

Some agencies have special housing available for the elderly and disabled. If you are disabled, let the housing authority know when you apply. However, you do not have to let them know what your specific disability is (i.e., you do not have to tell them you are living with HIV).

There may be more than one housing authority in the area where you want to live, especially if you are looking in a large city. You will need to contact each housing authority to find out where they take applications, what is available, and how long you may be on the waiting list. In many cases, you will be on the waiting list for months or even years, so apply as soon as possible. Fill out applications at as many authorities as you can, even places that might not be your first choice.

You can find housing authority contact information for your state by going to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website.

Private Rental Market

You can try to find an apartment through the newspapers, online listings (e.g., Craigslist), or a realtor. If you do this you will have to pay full rent. However, you may be able to find a program that will assist you with the rent through a subsidy (financial assistance). Ask your housing advocate about this option.

If you rent an apartment and get a subsidy, you will pay a portion of your household income towards rent and utilities. The housing agency or program will pay the rest directly to the landlord. You do not need to tell your landlord why you are receiving a subsidy -- that information is confidential.


Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem that affects many people in the US, including many HIV+ people. Treating your HIV and taking care of your overall health can be difficult if you are homeless.

If you are homeless there are programs that provide a range of services, including shelter, food, counseling, and jobs-skills training. For help and resource information contact a local homeless assistance agency or go to the HUD website or the National Coalition for the Homeless website. You may also be able to get some assistance from your local branch of The Salvation Army or the United Way help line (or dial 2-1-1).

If you fear you could become homeless, it may be possible to find emergency assistance programs in your area that can help pay rent or bills. Some programs are run by the state, county, or local division of housing assistance, or by the division of social/human services. Try looking in the government listings in your phone book for these agencies. Churches and non-profit organizations also offer emergency help.

Homeowners with problems that could result in losing their homes can contact a HUD-approved, housing-counseling agency for advice on defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. Homeowners can contact the HUD website or call 888-995-HOPE (4673).


Special Considerations for Women

Finding the right housing for women with HIV can have its own set of challenges. Many HIV+ women do not earn enough money to afford a decent place to live because they are taking care of children, spouses, and other family members. Women may find that they qualify for housing, while their loved ones -- especially male partners and teenage sons -- do not.

It can be helpful to look beyond HIV-related housing for women and families. There may be housing and shelter options available for battered women, for pregnant women, for women coming out of jail, and for women needing substance abuse treatment. Talk to your case manager or housing advocate about the people you are caring for and your housing needs in order to find the best program for you.

Some information in this article is adapted from the AIDS Housing Corporation booklet "How to Get a Place Called Home" at www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/aids/docs/doh-9547.pdf.

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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 TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com 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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