As Chicago’s coldest months approach, as many as 15,000 HIV-positive people there may still need some form of housing assistance, according to John Peller, director of political action at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). With only about 1,500 units of AIDS housing available, “there’s a tremendous shortfall,” he says—a shortage that is causing a severe backup in community residences and housing-assistance programs.
That’s why the AFC began a campaign this summer to lobby Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the city council for $1.5 million, hoping to avert a crisis this winter. For people living with HIV, a lack of housing can seriously impede health care, making it difficult to fill medication prescriptions, obtain food to take with meds and keep doctor’s appointments. “We know that every day in Chicago there are people living with HIV and AIDS who are forced to make a choice between rent and food, rent and transportation to the doctor, rent and utilities and rent and new clothes,” says Peller. Sweet home, Chicago?