BEHIV opening additional housing units for people living with AIDS

Tue. January 5, 2010 12:00 AM

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Organization Expanding its Safe Start Program

Chicago, IL - Better Existence with HIV (BEHIV), through a contract by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program, is expanding its Safe Start Housing program, adding three additional units.

BEHIV's Safe Start program offers independent scattered-site housing, intensive case management and additional services to homeless men and women who are disabled by HIV, active substance users and/or dealing with mental health problems. Housing units are located on Chicago's north side.

BEHIV currently has 12 individuals in its Safe Start program. This new contract is allowing additional individuals to join the program, providing life-saving services to more members of the community. The new units should be filled before the end of January.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to expand Safe Start," said BEHIV Executive Director Eric Nelson. "The need is growing for programs that help people live on their own, while providing the intensive counseling and assistance needed to help people live."

"Safe Start is a very important part of our services. The individuals in this program are some of the most at-risk members of the HIV community," said Cassandra Smith, BEHIV Housing Manager. "Providing a safe, stable place for them to live and helping them maintain their medical, substance abuse and/or mental health treatment regimens gives them freedom and independence, while still guiding them through the often difficult task of dealing with HIV/AIDS."

BEHIV annually educates more than 12,000 students about how to protect themselves, because HIV increasingly affects our youth; houses more than 190 men, women and children impacted by HIV, who might otherwise be homeless; delivers case management, mental health counseling, art therapy and massage therapy services to more than 300 adults who need a lifeline to supportive services and provides approximately 1,000 free HIV and sexually transmitted infection tests to our most vulnerable populations.