Res­i­dent ap­pli­ca­tions now avail­able

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

THRIVE House will serve as a “tran­si­tional op­por­tu­nity house” for HIV-pos­i­tive in­di­vid­u­als who need help get­ting back on their feet.

“This truly is a re­sult of what the HIV epi­demic looks like in At­lanta, and also the nation. The only ris­ing group at risk, or groups con­tract­ing HIV con­sis­tently has been young, black gay men and young black trans­gen­der women,” Drif­fin said.

In 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, At­lanta had the fifth-high­est rate of new HIV in­fec­tions in the US, and re­cent num­bers show “the 2.1 per­cent preva­lence rate found in ur­ban poverty ar­eas in the US ex­ceeded the 1 per­cent cut-off that de­fines a gen­er­al­ized HIV epi­demic and is sim­i­lar to the rates found in sev­eral low-in­come coun-

Jan­uary 20, 2017

tries.” CDC data also in­di­cate that HIV rates are greater based on poverty level and race.

“Hous­ing, ac­cess to care and em­ploy­ment have al­ways been the big three that truly keep peo­ple out of care and serve as bar­ri­ers. Putting our heads to­gether, we wanted to tackle one of the bar­ri­ers, and that is go­ing to be hous­ing in this pro­gram,” Drif­fin said.

To his knowl­edge, Drif­fin said there isn’t any­thing quite like THRIVE House in the South. There are shel­ters for LGBT youth, and shel­ters for home­less adults, but many are not geared specif­i­cally to­ward those at high­est risk for HIV. Drif­fin said one rea­son hous­ing was a bar­rier to thriv­ing with HIV goes back to Maslow’s Hi­er­ar­chy of Needs. He said pro­vid­ing food, shel­ter and help with in­come could set HIV-pos­i­tive in­di­vid­u­als “on a dif­fer­ent tra­jec­tory.”

“If you don’t have some­place safe to sleep at night, ev­ery­thing else is go­ing out the win­dow. It’s not go­ing to be truly im­por­tant, or it may not be as im­por­tant, to be linked to med­i­cal care be­ing that your ba­sic things are not be­ing met,” Drif­fin said. “Even still today, many peo­ple who are in med­i­cal care, and es­pe­cially if they’re tak­ing med­i­ca­tions for HIV, they may be on a reg­i­men that ties to hav­ing some­place to keep their meds safe.”

Po­ten­tial res­i­dents fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion, pro­vide proof of in­come and meet with a THRIVE SS rep­re­sen­ta­tive to de­ter­mine if they are a good fit for the house or not.

“We re­ally fore­see the house fit­ting any­where from three to five folks, truly de­pend­ing on their in­di­vid­ual need, whether it’s an emer­gency place to stay overnight to a more semi-longer term,” Drif­fin said.

He said longer-term sup­port would be up to five months, dur­ing which res­i­dents will search for per­ma­nent hous­ing and be­come more fi­nan­cially sta­ble. Each res­i­dent will also have a weekly case man­age­ment ses­sion, do­ing things like speak­ing with coun­selors or cre­at­ing a strong ré­sumé. On a case-by­case ba­sis res­i­dents may be asked to put a por­tion of what they make to­ward rent.

“Not hav­ing some­place to sleep at 5:00 is scary in At­lanta. We re­ally are go­ing to do our due dili­gence to take that bar­rier away when it comes to hav­ing some­place you can lock the door and go to sleep and not have to wake up in the morn­ing and won­der about whether or not your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or med­i­ca­tion will be stolen,” Drif­fin said.

The house was a gift from one of THRIVE SS’ donors about a year af­ter the or­ga­ni­za­tion kicked off, and it be­gan ac­cept­ing res­i­dents ear­lier this month.

“We were in there [on a ] Fri­day night be­gin­ning to paint all the rooms. We re­painted the bath­rooms, the kitchen and started mak­ing the asks within the com­mu­nity. In­stantly peo­ple be­gan to email us specif­i­cally do­nat­ing the dif­fer­ent ser­vices they could as­sist us with,” Drif­fin said.

Donors brought THRIVE House its washer and dryer, most of its fur­ni­ture, even pa­per prod­ucts. Drif­fin said peo­ple who still want to be in­volved can do so ei­ther with inkind or mone­tary do­na­tions.

“If you don’t have some­place safe to sleep at night, ev­ery­thing else is go­ing out the win­dow. It’s not go­ing to be truly im­por­tant, or it may not be as im­por­tant, to be linked to med­i­cal care be­ing that your ba­sic things are not be­ing met.”

To make a do­na­tion to THRIVE House, please visit www.thrivess.com.

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