St. Louis AIDS/HIV Housing Earns National Recognition

The Doorways interfaith AIDS residence program was named a "shining star" by the St. Louis office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was one of 11 Missouri programs recognized for spreading light throughout the community.

Based on the premise that housing is part of healthcare, Doorways operates five residences in the St. Louis area, with plans to open two more. HUD recently awarded the agency a $1.3 million grant to provide supportive housing for people with HIV/AIDS in 79 of the state's 115 counties.

Doorways residents receive a private bedroom and bath. A round-the-clock staff helps them manage medication, offers counseling, and provides services such as meals and laundry. Amenities include a medication room, pool table, hair salon, and kitchens on each floor. Doorways is not a hospice. President Lynne Cooper estimates that about 70 percent of the patients improve and move on to independent housing.

Cooper said housing must play a role in battling AIDS. "It used to be when people contracted HIV, they got poorer. Now, it's more poor people contracting HIV," she noted, adding that she's seeing more HIV/AIDS infected people battling multiple issues such as mental health or substance abuse problems.

Doorways assists about 450 people a month, and has approximately 100 individuals or families on a waiting list. The agency's levels of assistance range from permanent housing to temporary apartments, from short-term funds to help someone remain at home to simply matching clients up with landlords.

Supportive housing residents pay 30 percent of their income. Housing and nursing cost about $200 a day, hundreds less than the cost of clients being hospitalized, Cooper explained.

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