Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (02.07.12) - Monday, February 13,
The Memphis-area nonprofit Friends For Life (FFL) recently
held a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of a
$1.3 million, 10-unit apartment building for homeless people
living with HIV/AIDS.
But unlike other residential programs run by FFL, would-be
tenants will not have to pass an initial drug test to qualify
to live in one of the fully furnished, single-occupancy units
at the Aloysius New Beginnings complex. "It's hard to get 'off
the corner' if you're living on the corner, said Kim
Daugherty, FFL's executive director. "Let's get them indoors,
housed, and then work on changes so they won't be relegated to
the corner forever."
A recent report by the National AIDS Housing Coalition showed
the strong link between HIV and homelessness. The 2011 policy
study found HIV infection rates among the homeless are about
16 times higher than among the general population, and more
than one-half of people living with HIV experience
homelessness or housing instability following diagnosis.
FFL views housing as a key step in managing HIV/AIDS. "First
we provide the housing, then we pile on other services," said
Project Manager Lonnie Franklin.
Shelby County has a new HIV case rate 2.5 times that of the
state's, 2010 data show. Blacks comprise 83.5 percent of
county residents living with HIV/AIDS, whites 14.1 percent,
and Hispanic 1.6 percent. The majority of the 6,633 estimated
cases are male (62.8 percent).
Noting the strong social stigma still attached to HIV/AIDS in
Memphis, Daughtery asked that the address of the new facility
not be reported.