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Ordinance could offer more housing for homeless people who are HIV positive

Advocacy groups said this year has been an up-hill battle finding affordable housing for individuals.

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta has approved an ordinance that would provided continued support for housing assistance for people who are HIV positive. The consideration comes as advocacy groups across the metro Atlanta area saying they're struggling to place people.

Maryum Gibson, the CEO of the Jerusalem House, the city's oldest and largest provider for housing homeless families and individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS, said this year has brought unique challenges with the pandemic and an uptick in housing prices. 

“The past year has been unique, and it has been hard for Jerusalem House but not like other housing providers in the metro Atlanta. So, what we’ve seen has just been an astronomical increase in housing rates in the city and that has hampered a lot of work that we do," explained Gibson.

The up-hill battle for many advocacy groups comes as the city passes an ordinance that would direct additional funds to a federal program that provides housing grants for these groups. The ordinance could amount to a million dollar boost for the program. 

Gibson said this kind of support is critical to the work they do.

“I know this program supports so many people who need it, and it is so necessary in our community and money that can be into it to strengthen it is money well spent," she added.

According to the CDC, Georgia has one of the highest HIV rates for adults and adolescents out of all 50 states. Jerusalem House tells 11 Alive they alone assist more than 400 people including 100 children.