Rural HIV Housing Coordination
The Tri-State Housing Environments for Living Positively is a partnership between one State agency and four private agencies that are spread across three states. TS HELP is the first and only multi-state HOPWA model providing delivery of HIV/AIDS housing and related supportive services to the region of Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. These three states constitute some of the lowest population densities in the United States along with low prevalence of HIV. These states currently do not receive HOPWA formula funds and came together in 2002 to form a consortium to apply for a HOPWA competitive Long-Term Grant. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services took on the responsibility of applying for the grant however due to the large geographical area of the grant, which includes the entirety of the three states, they have contracted with the Montana State University to provide oversight, monitoring, data collection, APR reporting, grant submission, and sponsor support and coordination. In 2005 they applied for and received a second grant which was renewed in 2009. The large geographic area generates challenges for each project sponsor, in some cases case managers must drive 1 to 2 days to meet clients. Since the Montana State University has taken over responsibility of grantee functions this allows the project sponsors to uniquely address the need in their specific communities.
In Western Region of Montana the Missoula AIDS Council (MAC) provides TBRA, STRMU, Supportive Services, and Permanent Housing Placement to around 73 clients during the 3 year grant period. They have also identified a need to combat isolation and transportation challenges and have a Buddy Program that provides its clients with a “buddy” to help with routine tasks like going to the grocery store but also someone to just hang out with and maybe catch a movie. MAC provides intensive case management that aims to empower their clients and connects their clients to mainstream resources such as SSDI/SSI and Section 8. A Housing Plan and Individualized Service Plan are developed for all clients and meetings are held regularly to ensure stability.
In Montana’s Eastern Region the Yellowstone AIDS Project (YAP) connects with the local Ryan White Case Managers to ensure referral of eligible clients. The HOPWA staff members provide information packets that include client application materials to all their partners in the community so clients can access a seamless continuum of care. They provide TBRA, STRMU, and Supportive Services to 80 clients. YAP set up a Client Action Body which allows clients to voice their opinions at quarterly meetings throughout the year. YAP has leveraged funds to provide a scholarship to help offset costs associated with pursuing academic, personal, and professional goals.
In South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission (SFHRC) reaches many of its potential clients through referrals from the Ryan White case managers and program administrators. Monthly meetings are held between Ryan White and HOPWA case managers to discuss client needs and case management strategies. The SFHRC staff regularly attends meetings and trainings of various Homeless coalitions and has made an effort to outreach to public housing agencies throughout the state. The HOPWA program has a toll free phone number that clients from across the state can contact a housing coordinator or case manager. For a new client, SFHRC’s HOPWA case managers do a full assessment of both housing and service needs which includes the areas of housing, education/job training, health, financial, among other needs. After the initial assessment is completed a Housing or Individualized Service Plan is developed and the client and case manager talk or meet on a regular basis to ensure that progress is being made.
In North Dakota, the project sponsor has offices across the state and the clients can choose a Community Action Region VII agency or case manager that best suits their needs. The case manager provides one on one housing-related case management with the goal of self-sufficiency. The client’s Individualized Service or Housing Plan is review regularly and the case manager helps the client identify and resolve problems and explore community resources in areas such as education and employment or job training. The agency also runs a food pantry and clothing closet free of charge to clients.
By the numbers:
2007 - 2010
- TBRA – 139 clients served
- STRMU – 91 clients served
- Supportive Services – 626 clients served
- PHP – 29 clients served