Thanks to Our Let’s Kick ASS AIDS Walk Team

img_6964On September 10th Let’s Kick ASS participated in the AIDS Walk Portland. We want to thank  David Duncan who set up our team for this years  event. Our team members; Steven Headington, Todd Brooks, Marie Fisher, John Flack, Fred Luna, Emiluz Lopez, Troy Preble and Jordan Williams raised a total of $1171.00 for the AIDS Walk. A generous portion of the money raised will directly benefit and support our long-term survivor community to continue to THRIVE through our programs such as;  Social Activities, Health & Wellness, Visibility & Voice, Advocacy & Activism and Community Service. Click Who we are to learn more.

We proudly marched in this walk to help end isolation and to support the HIV Positive and Negative community of long-term survivors. We are all blessed to have been able to come together to support our community. We were able to get people to march with us at the last minute who did not plan on marching and marched along side others who were marching alone.

John Flack, who is a member of Let’s Kick ASS had a debilitating stomachimg_6959_moment ache and was so dedicated to the walk that through his stomach pain managed to walk the 2.5 miles. After the walk LKA members went to have lunch and John decided that he really needed to lay down in a nearby apartment and would wait for everyone to eat before going home. While everyone was eating we received a phone call from John saying that he wanted to go to emergency room. So we rushed him to OHSU, to discover that his appendix had ruptured. Now that is dedication above and beyond. This just goes to show the support Let’s Kick ASS members have and that is how we roll.

Click on Let’s Kick ASS – Portland to learn more and to discover how you to can become more involved.

email: info@letskickasspdx.org for inquires

 

Thank You AIDS Walk Portland

Thank You Cascade AIDS Project and AIDS Walk Portland 

Our team raised a total of $1171.00 towards the AIDS Walk. Let’s Kick ASS is honored to be in partnership with Cascade AIDS Project.  Our partnership allowed Let’s Kick ASS – Portland to be directly benefited which will go to support our Long-Term Survivor Community to THRIVE.

We want to give a special shout out to Andrew Shade – Special Events Coordinator,  Caleb Bourgeois – AIDS Walk Outreach Coordinator, Tyler TerMeer – Executive Director and all the employees and volunteers of the Cascade AIDS Project for their hard work and community support to empower people living with or affected by HIV.

Also, a HUGE HUG to everyone in the community who helped sponsor and who donated support the AIDS Walk Teams. The AIDS Walk Portland goal is $450,000.00. All the teams combined raised $427,626.00, we collectively need to raise another $22,374.oo. Please help close the gap the fight is still not over. Thank you again everyone for your love and support.

Road Trip to Cape Disappointment

Let’s Kick ASS – Portland took another road trip this last weekend to Cape Disappointment off the Washington Coast. Let me tell you, Cape Disappointment was anything but disappointing. We got to climb the ruins of Fort Canby, took a short stroll up to the beautiful Cape Disappointment Light House where the Coast Guard Station still protects the ships and channel to this day.

We went to picnic at Benson Beach where we got a free sand art tour and learned about tides, waves and currents. It is recommended by the Coast Guard and the Swim and Rescue Team to not go into the frigid and cold water here at the beach. The water is to cold all year round and the rip currents are especially strong here. This beach alone gets over 300 rescue calls a year.
But we were able to still enjoy our picnic on the beach, wade in the water and climb the rocks to walk to the end of the 1/2 mile long Jetty.

We ended our day by driving to Astoria and had dinner on the water at the Baked Alaska. I strongly suggest the half baked dessert. There was enough for everyone to have a taste or two as we passed the dessert around. It was so good in fact; the waitress even had her spoon in hand patiently waiting her turn.

Thank you to all of our Kick ASS Activity Members. Fred L., John F.. David D., Jordan, Troy P, Mark B, Bobby H, Steven H

 

 

Feel at Home

Finding solutions to housing older Americans living with HIV/AIDS

August 15, 2016 By Tim Murphy                     

Source: Feel at Home POZ Magazine

On a steamy afternoon in late May, Clifton Alford, Alfred Baker and John Lawton were showing off the myriad vegetables—kales, lettuces, broccolis, tomatoes, cucumbers and more—pluming lushly upward in handsome, spacious rows of wooden raised beds. The garden shared space with peach and fig trees and picnic tables in the courtyard of their group home.

The gleaming, 60-unit senior-housing “green” building in New York City’s South Bronx neighborhood was built in 2011 with city housing funds and is run by Comunilife, a nonprofit supportive housing agency. Thirty-five of the units are set aside for formerly homeless HIV-positive seniors like Alford, 57; Baker, 64; and Lawton, 65. Alford, who helps tend the garden, inspected the broccoli. “This stuff is ready to eat!” he declared. “People better get down here and pick it.”

Each unit at the residence has its own small kitchen, where residents often cook the garden fare, sometimes after taking in-house classes on nutrition and cooking. There is also a spacious kitchen and dining/living area on the first floor, complete with comfy couches and a large-screen TV, for group meals and get-togethers. There’s even another garden terrace on an upper floor. Says Alford with a smile, “I can stay upstairs by myself or come join the madness down here.” Lawton agrees that the building provides the perfect balance of privacy and community. “It’s a place I can rest,” he says.

Such peace of mind for the residents is Comunilife’s intention. Every resident has a caseworker in ground-floor offices to help navigate everything from government benefits and medical needs to support around mental health and substance-use issues. Almost everyone living at the residence has some history of homelessness, incarceration, substance use, mental illness or a combination thereof. For many of them, the residence is the first permanent, well-run home they’ve had in a long time. Drug use per se is not grounds for ejection, as it is in many traditional supportive housing models, but rather dealt with in terms of how it impacts individual or group well-being or the ability to pay one’s rent.

In fact, the building is an oasis of security in a city that—like many U.S. urban centers, long the strongholds of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—has become ever more gentrified and expensive in the past decade, with rents for one-bedroom apartments in New York City now averaging half of one’s income. Alford, Baker and Lawton all pay about a third of their monthly disability or Social Security checks, roughly $250 each.

“It’s very difficult for HIV-positive seniors to get housing because the real estate market is challenging, particularly for seniors who are retired with limited income,” says Rosa Gil, DSW, the founder, president and CEO of Comunilife. “And that includes the Bronx”—the poorest of the city’s five boroughs—“where rents are beginning to go up following the other boroughs.”

***

The challenge Gil describes is not limited to New York City. Nationally, half of all people living with HIV are 50 or older, and that proportion is expected to reach 70 percent by 2020, according to SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders).

This population “faces many of the challenges faced by other older adults, only much more pronounced,” says Aaron Tax, the group’s director of federal and government relations. Foremost among those challenges is the high rate of poverty: According to a study from AIDS service organization ACRIA of 1,000 New York City adults over 50 with HIV, 53 percent said they had just enough money to get by and 23 percent said they didn’t have enough to make ends meet.

The fact that many older people with HIV are LGBT (and hence less likely to have children to take care of them) and the fact that they face challenges associated with having lived for many years with the virus—work disability, loss of friends and lovers, discrimination and stigma, racism, homophobia, transphobia—means you’re looking at a population that may need help not only paying the rent but also getting by overall.

“It’s imperative that policy makers and program planners address the growing housing crisis facing this population,” says Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD, ACRIA’s director for research and evaluation, “in order to ensure that this most basic of human needs—shelter—is not overlooked.”

And although there appear to be no funding channels specifically for seniors living with HIV, that group overlaps with categories—seniors, disabled folks, people with HIV and low-income people—who receive public housing assistance through several channels, such as the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 program, the federal Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program or state/city programs such as New York’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA).

According to Rusty Bender, who heads the National AIDS Housing Coalition, efforts are under way to get the federal government to shift away from counting people with an AIDS diagnosis to counting people living with HIV when distributing HOPWA funds. There are bills in both the House and Senate requesting this change, but they may be on hold until after the presidential election.

Some such funding gets funneled into group residences such as Comunilife’s in the Bronx, but other funding flows into local programs that dole out rental assistance so that seniors with HIV can afford to live in their own apartments.

Such is the mission of the agency Doorways in St. Louis. It helped Betty Edwards, 68, with upfront money she needed recently to move from her sister’s home to her own one-bedroom in nearby Florissant, where $500 of her $900 monthly Social Security check goes to rent.

“If I get behind, they’ll give me money to catch up,” she says. And that counts for a lot, because in recent years she’s been bouncing back from a bout with cancer (it’s in remission now) and two back surgeries. But the array of places she reaches out to for other essentials—Goodwill for clothes and food pantries for groceries—underscores just how fragile life can be for HIV-positive seniors.

“I can’t afford movies and stuff,” she says. “That’s just life, and you have to deal with it.”

***

But more often, especially in major cities, older HIV-positive adults who are also LGBT are applying to get on lists for units in a growing number of buildings that are set up as affordable supportive apartment complexes for LGBT seniors.

The first one, Triangle Square in Los Angeles, opened in 2007. Thirty-five of 104 of its units are set aside for seniors living with HIV, some of whom participate in the Monday night HIV writers’ group. Since then, there’s Center on Halsted in Chicago, the John C. Anderson Apartments in Philadelphia, Spirit on Lake in Minneapolis and the forthcoming 55 Laguna in San Francisco. Two New York City projects—Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn and Crotona Senior Residences in the Bronx—were announced in June.

Then again, not all LGBT seniors with HIV can live in a dedicated facility. Enter SAGECare, SAGE’s new program to train regular nursing homes to give LGBT-sensitive care. So far, the program has trained more than 11,000 caregivers and credentialed 76 facilities nationwide.

According to Hilary Meyer, its founder, “Things LGBT folks have lived through, including the AIDS crisis, affect who they are now and how they interact with providers. We try to help providers understand that so that they can be affirmatively welcoming and LGBT folks can be open and authentic.”

But it should be pointed out that other HIV-positive seniors, especially younger ones, are just fine living in an affordable housing complex that may be near HIV services but otherwise is just a normal apartment building.

Take, for instance, Nicholas Snow, 54, a resident of the Vista Sunrise Apartments in Palm Springs, California, a city with a large senior LGBT and HIV-positive community. He’s not only independent, but, between his part-time restaurant job and his own one-man media channel, PromoHomoTV, he’s also busy all the time. But because his income is low, he qualifies for his $300 monthly one-bedroom with a balcony overlooking the pool. Desert AIDS Project, where he receives care and services, is right across the street.

“I have no idea what I’d do without this setup, frankly,” he says. “I’m relieved that I’m not in danger of losing my home. I view my apartment as an affordable, self-contained office and home that anchors my life to stability and health care but allows me to live my life and do my work.”

***

In rapidly gentrifrying cities, particularly New York and San Francisco, where the average one-bedroom now rents for around $3,000, HIV-positive seniors sometimes can find themselves fighting alongside other non-rich renters to hold on to just-barely affordable units amid soaring real estate markets.

Take “E.,” for example, a 79-year-old HIV-positive African-American gay male artist who has lived for 13 years in a loft in a building where he pays less than $1,000 for rent. By law, the building is rent-stabilized, meaning the rent can go up only tiny amounts each year. But California’s Ellis Act law says that landlords can kick out all their rent-stabilized tenants if they plan to convert the building for commercial use, which is highly lucrative amid the city’s current tech boom.

That’s exactly what his landlord is trying to do, in what would be the city’s biggest Ellis Act mass eviction to date. E. is among the tenants fighting back in court against the much-publicized attempt (that’s why he asked not to use his name for this story).

“I don’t know where else I’d go at this point,” says E., who is receiving help from the city’s Q Foundation/AIDS Housing Alliance in submitting applications to upcoming affordable housing complexes. The agency also pays most of his current rent, freeing the rest of his Social Security check for food and other basics.

“I like where I live now. It’s a big, spacious place with good light,” which is essential for his art. “I’ve got good neighbors and have been able to create an atmosphere here that keeps me alive. It’s not easy packing up and making changes at my age.”

According to Brian Basinger, founder and director of AIDS Housing Alliance, San Francisco has the highest rate of homeless people with HIV in the nation, fueled in part by the Ellis Act, which has disproportionately evicted older gay men with HIV living in the traditionally gay Castro area, forcing them into cheaper housing outside the city core, far from their support networks.

Since the mid-1990s, says Basinger, “landlords would find a building with a bunch of disabled gay men with AIDS who’d been there since the 1970s, buy it, kick them all out and then convert the building to a condo.”

Since 2004, he says, his group and other tenant advocates have been able to pass one city law a year to fight against this trend, but they’re still swimming against the tide. According to his research, 76 percent of all people with HIV in the city are at risk of homelessness because of a high rent burden, “and the estimates are highest for seniors.”

In a city where people with HIV make up 2 percent of the population, more than 600 such seniors are homeless, with another 5,400 at risk of such, many of them living in and out of shabby SRO (single-room-occupancy) hotel buildings where rent starts at $300 a week. Their average Social Security check, says Basinger, is $1,100 a month.

Some relief may emerge in the form of residences like the Ambassador Hotel, a haven in the 1990s for people with HIV that Basinger’s group has refurbished into a modern-day supportive housing site with units for more than 100 people with HIV.

But Basinger still foresees an uphill climb to keep the city’s HIV-positive seniors stably housed. Unlike New York State, he notes, California has no law mandating that homeless people be housed.

No wonder, then, that back in the Bronx, Alford, Baker and Lawton are so happy where they are. Baker is in a special program to learn how to be a counselor to other people with mental health or substance issues.

He and Alford also head up the tenant committee, which just lobbied successfully to get fun things like movie tickets added to the otherwise mundane prizes (toothpaste, etc.) on Bingo Night. And Lawton stays busy visiting his wife, Shirley, who lives in New Jersey. Their life may sound modest, but, given their pasts, it means a lot to them to have an affordable, supportive place to grow old in.

As Lawton puts it: “I’ve got my own kitchen, bathroom and air conditioning. What else do you need?”


Aging and Worried About Affordable Housing?

The government website locator.aids.gov can search HIV/AIDS resources, including housing, by your location.

National AIDS Housing Coalition

nationalaidshousing.org

202-347-0333

The group advocates for safe and affordable housing for people with HIV and provides local referrals.

SAGE

sageusa.org/lgbthousing

212-741-2247

The national group advocates for LGBT seniors and has a National Elder LGBT Housing Initiative to both build and support LGBT residences nationwide.

AIDS Housing Alliance

ahasf.org

415-552-3242

This group offers housing advocacy and services for people with HIV in the San Francisco area.

Comunilife

comunilife.org

212-219-1618

This organization provides housing and services for New Yorkers with HIV and/or mental illness.


Continue reading “Feel at Home”

Todd Brooks New Let’s Kick ASS AIDS Walk Team Member

Thank you TODD for supporting and Joining our AIDS WALK Team.

Todd Brooks | Let’s Kick ASS Portland

Help Todd raise money for the Sept 10th  AIDS Walk Portland that supports the crucial programs and services of Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) and Let’s Kick ASS – Portland.

Donate today and help Todd reach his $250.00 goal to support HIV Positive and Negative Long Term Survivor.

DONATE NOW

Surviving & Thriving AIDS, Politics & Culture

Surviving & Thriving

AIDS, Politics & CultureST-main

Monday August 15th 5:30pm to 7:30pm, The Q Center 4115 N Mississippi Ave.


The Q Center, your host for the evening on Monday August 15th from 5:30 to 7:30 invites you to attend our program and view the exhibit for our opening night. The Q Center, Our House, Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) – Portland,  Cascade AIDS Project and The Quest Center for Integrative Health for our Surviving and Thriving AIDS, Politics & Culture Exhibit (on loan from OHSU) will hold a panel discussion that will begin at 6pm. The exhibit will be on display from August 15th to September 2nd.

The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980’s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years. The title Surviving and Thriving comes from a book written in 1987 by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Jennifer Brier, the exhibition curator, explains that “centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.

Surviving and Thriving” presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis. The six-banner traveling exhibition utilizes a variety of historic photographs as well as images of pamphlets and publications to illustrate how a group of people responded to, or failed to respond, to HIV/AIDS.

Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture began traveling around the United States in October 2013.

For more information, contact nlmtravelingexhibits@nlm.nih.gov or visit us on the web at: www.nlm.nih.gov/survivingandthriving.

Credit line: This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Curated by Jennifer Brier, PhD, University of Illinois

On the Panel, we will have:

  1. Steve Headington -President of Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) Portland
  2. James Lindquist – Director of Development of Our House of Portland
  3. Tyler TerMeer – Executive Director of Cascade AIDS Project
  4. Scott Moore – Director of Development & Communications of Quest Center for Integrative Health
  5. Monty Herron – Author,  Professor, and Activist also with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
  6. Representative  from The Women of Wisdom of The Quest Center for Integrative Health

Raina Daniels will be the panel facilitator for the event

Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) Portland’s Website is Getting a New Facelift

Ben Brown Jr the owner of Ace of Spades Portland will be donating his professional media serves to help Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) Portland (LKAPDX); in giving our website a new facelift.  Ben Brown Jr. has helped numerous for profit and non-profit organizations.

Ben Brown Jr.’s resume is very impressive and his design work has been widely published. He has been featured in the Oregonian, Willamette Week (including almost all content, including advertising, in their 32 page Pride Guide in 2012, issue 3831, 06 June 2012), the Statesman-Journal, Portland Mercury, PQ MonthlyEl Hispanic News and Just Out to name a few.

Not only does he design websites but he has an impressive gallery that includes video’s, photographs, many freebies throughout that you can download for yourself. Click here to see a list of his galleries.

LKAPDX is excited and we are looking forward to working with Ben Brown Jr. So stay tuned as in the coming weeks we start to slowly unravel and roll out our new website. In the mean time listen to Ben Brown Jr’s podcast featuring the history and music celebrities of our generations. Click here to select and listen to podcasts.

Join us for our Hike to Lost Lake

Mark you calendars. We are having our 2nd hike at Lost Lake It will take place on Sunday, August 14, 2016. This is the re-scheduled hike that we couldn’t do back in May because of inclement weather. We will meet at the Hollywood Fred Meyer parking lot in front of Starbucks; 3030 NE Wielder Street at 8:30. We will have to rely on members with vehicles to help get us to Lost Lake. Please let us know if you can drive and how many people you can take with you. The caravan will leave at 8:30 a.m.

We will hike the trail around the lake and enjoy the views of Mt. Hood. Bring your camera and pack some water and some snacks!

If you would like to join us on our hike please RSVP on our Meetup.com page. Lets get out and enjoy the day. Hope to see you there!

Monthly Smorgasbord Starting August

We are happy to announce that our monthly meals together will resume starting in Aug. This is a time where HIV Poz and HIV Neg Long-Term Survivors can come together for a sense of community and comradery. Our goal is to bring people together to share stories and to create new friendships.

We ask that Let’s Kick ASS – Portland (LKA) Activity Members, volunteer to either host a potluck or create a venue for anyone who cares to break bread together.

In August we have Jordan (our awesome volunteer) who will be setting a time and date (TBD) for everyone to meet at the Old Spaghetti Factory. In September we have our volunteer team leader, Fred (who always cooks us something warm and special for our Saturday morning coffee socials) will be taking charge. He has not said what he is doing yet. Maybe we will have the honor of experiencing his awesome Mexican homemade cooking. Just throwing that out there. It might be a restaurant. Then for October we have Robert who is always willing to step in and lend a helping hand whenever and where ever he is needed. Not sure what Robert has in planned, but he says he has an idea.

If you would like to learn more about LKA events or would like to check us out. Please visit our website at Letskickasspdx.org Also check us out on Meetup.comFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.