For individuals coping with HIV or AIDS, help with housing expenses can literally be a matter between life and death. Through OHFA’s Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program, RAIN Oklahoma helps residents like Mark stay healthy and safe.
Mark said that with his various health issues, he takes $5,000 in medication. Since he is disabled, every little bit helps. Sitting on the couch of the apartment he rents from RAIN, he says he is extremely grateful.
“Without this, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. It’s been more than helpful, it’s been a godsend,” Mark said.
Though Mark qualifies for Social Security and Medicaid, those programs don’t cover his medical costs.
“Almost everything goes right back out the door to medication, copays and well, medication.”
Because he has a clean, quiet place he can call home, Mark said he has more time to focus on his health. Not only does RAIN provide housing for him, the organization can also provide transportation to and from medical appointments with the HOPWA grant. The organization also gave him a referral to a food pantry that helps with meals.
“I probably wouldn’t be able to get to the doctors, or I would maybe give up a little bit.”
Making sure the people who walk in the doors of RAIN don’t give up is something that Roy Dickerson has made his life work as the organization’s housing director. In Oklahoma City, the organization operates the Bungalows, which is transitional housing for individuals with HIV or AIDS. Residents must be homeless and stay sober. Residents may stay up to 2 years.
RAIN works with each individual to determine a care plan. Those who are able to work are charged $160 per month for rent and utilities.
“Paying rent gives them something they have to be responsible for,” said Roy. “Then when we get them into permanent housing, they know there is going to be some rent somewhere.
In the rural communities, RAIN assists with rental assistance, gas vouchers to pay for transportation to medical appointments, substance abuse treatment and more.
Roy said HOPWA offers flexibility to be able to assist each individual client with their particular needs as long as that benefit is one that could be provided to anyone else.
Due to the nature of its mission, RAIN prides itself as a “judgment-free zone.”
“In my 20 years here, we have never turned our backs on anyone for any type of service that we offer if they qualify,” said Roy. “I’ve never seen prejudice go against any of the clients. If they are at our door, we are going to assist.”