Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco) (11.17.11) - Wednesday,
Three groups recently visited the Occupy San Francisco
encampment to raise awareness about homelessness among people
with HIV/AIDS and LGBT youth. AIDS Housing Alliance/San
Francisco, St. James Infirmary and Homonomi joined forces for
the Veterans' Day event, which included HIV testing, needle
exchange, and a brown bag lunch for attendees.
San Francisco has the highest rate of homelessness for people
with HIV/AIDS, said Brian Basinger, AHA/SF's director. The
groups hope to meet Mayor Ed Lee and urge him to end
homelessness for PWAs, sex workers, and LGBT youth within four
While turnout was a bit less than organizers expected,
Basinger was confident his message was heard. The gathering
also commemorated the decade-long ARC/AIDS Vigil of 1985-1995,
in which people with HIV/AIDS and allies continually camped
out at San Francisco's UN Plaza demanding recognition and
federal HIV/AIDS research funding.
Housing should be first priority among support services,
Basinger said. Currently, housing help for San Franciscans
with HIV/AIDS is provided through the Department of Public
Health, but an individual's consideration for support is
linked to registration at a city clinic, he said. Some AHA/SF
clients do not want treatment or such registration, he said.
"We have to build on what started and furthermore implement a
true vision of housing first in San Francisco," Basinger said.
AHA/SF works to protect and secure new housing and promote
public policy expanding such opportunities, he said. The
integrated model includes affordable housing referrals,
emergency financial assistance with back-rent and move-in
deposits, rent subsidies, tenant-rights counseling, landlord
mediation, a legal services collaborative, and financial