When it comes to a serious condition like HIV, people need medical and emotional support to survive and thrive, but they also need the basics: housing. According to Charlie Frew, executive director of local nonprofit Jerusalem House, “People who are not stably housed are less likely to receive antiretroviral therapy and are more likely to be hospitalized,” as well as experience higher rates of premature death. Because of these statistics, Jerusalem House is adamant that “housing is health care,” and the organization is founded on that premise.
Jerusalem House offers housing for HIV+ adults, a dedicated space for HIV+ single moms and their children, and “scattered sites” throughout Atlanta so HIV+ individuals can live on their own and still access necessary support services. The organization has provided these crucial housing options since 1988 and is responsible for 60 percent of Atlanta’s dedicated HIV/AIDS housing today. In addition to a safe, quality home, Jerusalem House collaborates with other local organizations to provide medical care, places for kids to learn and play, literacy support and more. Volunteers can join in these efforts by tutoring child residents in the Learning Center or tackling home improvement projects such as gardening or painting.
People living with HIV still need these programs today because, Frew explains, they “still regularly encounter stigma, stereotyping and discrimination at work, at school, in health care settings and elsewhere.” For example, many people assume that Jerusalem House’s residents are primarily gay men, but in reality, 48 percent are female, 33 percent are dependent children and 65 percent identify as heterosexual.
No matter who their residents are, Jerusalem House’s vision is to provide them with a caring home that improves their health and quality of life. To help achieve that, Jerusalem House will hold their annual Stars Party on April 9 at The Atlanta Biltmore Hotel in Midtown, which includes live music, cocktails, a silent auction and more. To purchase tickets or get involved with Jerusalem House as a volunteer, visit jerusalemhouse.org.