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November 28, 2012

25 Stories: Housing is healthcare

Robert, a 51-year-old HIV+ African American man, was living with an abusive roommate when he decided to seeking housing services from The Damien Center. Robert's roommate locked him out of his home, ate his food, took his belongings, and on the way to a doctor appointment, kicked him out of the car on the interstate and made him walk the rest of the way. Robert's physical and mental health began to deteriorate as a result of this highly stressful situation, and he needed housing assistance to escape this situation.

Robert, who had no income, no family in Indiana, and debilitating back issues that keep him from working, was referred to The Damien Center through the Department of Corrections. Robert had been released from prison in the past year and was already enrolled in vocational rehabilitation and classes for nursing licensure. He was doing everything he needed to in order to get back on his feet - he just needed out of that house.

Robert meets with his Care Coordinator at The Damien Center two to four times a month. Through these meetings, Robert was able to apply for and was granted HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS) assistance. He now has his own apartment and his mental and physical health have improved dramatically. Because he has no income, he also accesses The Damien Center food pantry and Ryan White nutrition assistance, as well as Ryan White transportation assistance so he can attend his many doctor appointments.

Robert's quality of life and sense of independence have dramatically improved. According to Robert's Care Coordinator, the support and resources he was connected to through The Damien Center have reignited Robert's spark for life. "The first time I met this client, he was crying out of desperation for his situation and out of exhaustion for the status of his life," she said. "Now when I see him, every fiber of his being is smiling. He is very grateful for our services and very excited about the path his life is now on."