It was an early morning amid a shift change. Missy Catchings, our Operations Manager, opened the door at Three Cedars to a man who would later identify as an immigrant from the Congo who had driven from Arizona. Arizona is a difficult place for a homeless immigrant with HIV, he explained. He had been invited to Tacoma by friends from his native country. Once he arrived, his friends told him that he could not stay with them in their rental. So he found himself homeless and without access to housing or healthcare.
He heard that AHAT Homecare was a place where homeless people living with HIV could find assistance. It had been two days since he last had food, HIV medications and a shower. Our Project Open Door homeless housing was at capacity. We could not offer him housing on the spot.
Staff offered him breakfast and allowed him to shower at Three Cedars. He sat down in our living room to rest. When he woke up at lunch time, staff had reached out to Community Health Clinic and got him an appointment. He was able to obtain HIV and blood pressure medication that afternoon. Staff placed him on the waiting list for Project Open Door.He still had no place to stay that night. Three Cedars had an empty room waiting to be filled by a client who fit the criteria for an Adult Family Home. Staff asked permission to let him stay at Three Cedars temporarily. David Strong, Executive Director, said yes to the request until a client that met the criteria of long-term care could move into Three Cedars. The next day he was scheduled for an Intake appointment with Pierce County AIDS Foundation. He also signed up for temporary work.
This client represents the face of homelessness and HIV in our community. He is a part of the working poor of Tacoma. As we have for the past 30 years, the staff of AHAT Homecare opened the doors of compassion that have served over 300 people at Three Cedars. There is currently no funding for the urgent service that we provided for this client, who doesn’t meet our criteria and is undocumented. We are presently seeking funding to provide emergency short term housing for these situations. This client is preparing to move into our Project Open Door program. We are grateful that we are small and flexible enough to serve the urgent needs of people living with HIV in Tacoma/Pierce County.