Portland awarded new funding for support homeless people living with HIV/AIDS

Michael Kaplan, Executive Director of Cascade AIDS Project

Michael Kaplan, Executive Director of Cascade AIDS Project

From Just Out, September 27, 2011

It was announced [September 27, 2011] the Portland Housing Bureau received $1.365 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund a variety of housing services, including short-term rent assistance, employment services, and permanent housing for people living with HIV and experiencing homelessness. Per a press release, this new funding will provide homes for up to 60 more people living with HIV/AIDS per year and connect them to employment opportunities.

More than 600 people living with HIV/AIDS are experiencing homelessness, or on the brink of becoming homeless, in the Portland metropolitan area. While the economic recession has severely impacted the local community in recent years, the effects of unemployment are more pronounced among people living with HIV/AIDS. Seventy percent of people living with HIV/AIDS have incomes below the federal poverty level. Lack of employment and benefits income presents a major barrier to securing housing.

While a total of 46 projects were considered for funds from HUD, Portland is one of only eight communities throughout the country receiving the money. In particular, the grant money will assist Cascade AIDS Project’s housing and employment programs greatly.

Specifically, the new, local funding will support Springboard to Stability, Self-Sufficiency and Health (S4H), a collaborative initiative combining the work of Cascade AIDS Project in providing rent assistance, case management and employment services, with the employment and training services offered at WorkSource Portland Metro funded by Worksystems, Inc.

“Here in Portland, we are fortunate to work collaboratively with community and agency partners, increasing housing and services for people who need it most,” says Housing Commissioner Nick Fish. “It’s a big win for our community when we bring new dollars to help our most vulnerable neighbors, and also leverage existing partnerships and resources.” Fish acknowledged the outstanding work of the team at the Portland Housing Bureau who worked with partners to secure this grant, and thanked HUD for their continued support of Portland’s work.

The new grant will strengthen Cascade AIDS Project’s (CAP) housing and employment programs and help fulfill CAP’s mission of caring for and empowering people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. With the new funds, CAP’s housing program – already the largest provider of housing for people living with HIV/AIDS in Oregon and southwest Washington – will develop housing plans and find homes for up to 60 more people a year.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to expand our partnership with the City of Portland and Work Systems,” says Michael Kaplan, executive director, Cascade AIDS Project. “This funding will not only substantially reduce the waitlist of individuals living with HIV in need of stable housing, but with the funding for the integrated employment program, it offers many the opportunity for self-sufficiency.”

The new grant also ensures three additional years of operation for Working Choices, a program offering a full menu of workshops, one-on-one assistance, and networking groups for HIV-positive job seekers.

“Worksystems is delighted to be part of this innovative partnership that aligns and unites housing, employment and social service agencies to serve people living with HIV/AIDS,” says Andrew McGough, Executive Director, Worksystems Inc. “Funds from this grant will support a liaison to provide ongoing technical assistance to help Cascade AIDS Project staff connect their program participants with training and employment services available at WorkSource Portland Metro.”

“Portland’s ability to leverage funding dollars is made possible by the strength of local collaborations,” says Commissioner Fish. The City partners with Home Forward [Housing Authority of Portland], Multnomah County Departments of Health and Human Services, the Oregon Health Authority, Coalition of Community Health Clinics, Outside In and Central City Concern, among others.”