A HELPING HAND: Eric’s Story
Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) is a federally funded HUD program that offers a variety of housing solutions and support services for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. Alongside HOPWA, the Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) Program provides services from street outreach to rapid re-housing to those experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Continuing to leverage HOPWA with other local services to address housing insecurity and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Georgia, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is proud to share success stories of individuals who were given a helping hand.
The identity of each person profiled will be restricted out of respect for their privacy.
Eric has been borderline homeless in Columbus since 2013. He slept in parks, public bathrooms, vacant houses, and beneath bridges. Occasionally, a friend who received a disability or social security check would rent a hotel room and offer him a warm, safe place to sleep. Unfortunately, those times were seldom and far between. With the help of United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, Eric was housed in the Permanent Supportive Housing program.
During COVID-19, Eric had been back on the streets for four months before seeking refuge at an emergency shelter during a storm. There, the staff asked him to complete a general intake and assessment form, and several attempts were made to contact him to complete a housing needs assessment. However, he would not take or return calls.
Outreach and weekly visits continued to the areas where homeless individuals in Columbus tend to go, and the team crossed paths with Eric once again. He spent the fall and winter of 2020 on the streets. In December 2020, Eric was found in the park with some people who were attempting to find housing. For the next weeks, offers of help continued as he waited for his case manager to contact him, but nothing happened.
It wasn’t until Eric was seen outside of a downtown business. He was tired and hungry, and he was ready for help. That day, Eric was enrolled into the Emergency Shelter program, and he was taken to a hotel where he would be safe and have plenty to eat.
Eric met with the Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) team and was then enrolled in that program. They worked with him daily by helping him collect documentation, research and view apartments, and complete applications. He was excited and more than willing to help himself to stay housing-focused.
Thirty-four days after he enrolled in the DCA ESG-CV RRH program, Eric was successfully housed in a cottage he selected. However, his story will not end here! The program continues to work with Eric to make sure he gains the knowledge and resources he needs to sustain housing.