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Housing is an essential therapy for people living with HIV

“From the time they come in and say ‘I’m homeless,’ to the time they say, ‘I got the apartment!’ it’s so great,” beams Nichelle Austin, Housing Case Manager for Desert AIDS Project. “You see them a month later and they look so different because they’re able to say ‘I’ve got a house. I can sleep tonight.’ ”

Nichelle knows that providing housing is essential therapy for people living with HIV and AIDS, who are facing homelessness or already living on the streets. She’s seen it work many times. So has Housing Coordinator Monica Aitchison.

“When a client gets housing and can sustain it, his health improves,” Monica observes. “At first, his health is fragile. Then he gets better. He’s not so isolated. He’s more approachable. You can see the difference.”

That’s why D.A.P. includes 81 studio and one-bedroom apartments at the Vista Sunrise complex in the compassionate, comprehensive care package available to clients. Located next to our campus at Vista Chino and Sunrise Avenue, Vista Sunrise is just one of several ways we support clients in need of housing.

Follow the winding path through Vista Sunrise and you’ll see a cluster of two-story buildings with Spanish stucco facades in the hues of a Mojave sunset. The apartments are unfurnished and airy at about 352 square feet for studios and 534 for one bedrooms.  There is a full kitchen and bath in each unit with outdoor patios. And the grounds include a dog park and a pool. Residents can decorate their patio areas to suit their own tastes just as they do inside their homes.

Gina Hooten, Vista Sunrise’s property manager, points out that potential residents must be diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. Applicants also have to undergo credit and criminal background checks. They must have a source of income, usually Social Security. Rent is based on a sliding scale of 30%-60%-of-income. This gets them into a space whose market value ranges from $650 to $700 a month for studios and $700 to $800 a month for a one-bedroom.

Our housing specialists say the need is growing. Perhaps it’s the economy or the fact that people move here because of the weather, the lower cost of living and availability of resources.  Whatever the reason, Vista Sunrise has a growing waiting list of six to eight months for one-bedrooms and 12 to 18 months for studios.

Your donations and support can mean a world of difference for someone who doesn’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight. You can donate, volunteer, or help fundraise any time of the year to make sure there’s one less person on the streets.