Ever since opening in 1987, Clare Housing has been on the front lines of providing quality supportive services and permanent affordable housing solutions for people living with and impacted by HIV in our community. Today, Clare Housing is the largest licensed provider of supportive affordable housing for people living with HIV in Minnesota- as well as the only organization in the state dedicated to advancing new solutions to address the full continuum of HIV-related housing needs.
“There are nearly 1,000 people living with HIV in Minnesota without a permanent stable home,” said Phoebe Trepp, Executive Director at Clare Housing. “We are a housing-first program and we remain firmly committed to preserving and increasing affordable housing units for low-income and homeless individuals and families living with HIV. We believe housing equals health care — because once we can get folks housed, we can get them linked to health care.”
When the pandemic hit, the nonprofit knew their support and services would be more necessary than ever. And — like many organizations — COVID-19 was a surprise that they didn’t plan for.
“COVID-19 was nothing we or any other nonprofit budgeted for or expected,” said Trepp. “On top of that, our residents with HIV are immunocompromised and this virus truly could kill them. We are working diligently to get everyone connected to medical care, stay connected to medical care, and implement policies and procedures to keep residents safely housed and healthy.”
Clare Housing applied for and received an emergency third round grant from the Greater Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to deliver services in new and creative ways, expand current services, and serve vulnerable populations. This third wave of grants, totaling $700,000, was distributed to 52 local nonprofits.
The organization has been using the United Way emergency grant to step up sanitization and cleaning efforts at their housing properties and acquire PPE (personal protective equipment.)
“Again, there was simply no allocation in our budget for these added expenses: Masks, gloves, cleaning supplies and an abundance of hand sanitizer,” said Trepp. “So, we had all of that in addition to increased staffing costs. Because of the generous COVID-19 assistance from Greater Twin Cities United Way, we have added resources to keep residents safe, healthy, and stably-housed.”
Clare Housing has pivoted in many ways since the pandemic began, from restricting visitors to providing engaging programming that allows for physical distancing to addressing the social and emotional needs that come with isolation. Volunteers have also been doing grocery shopping for residents and dropping off necessities like personal care products as well as games and reading material.
“We’re all in this together and we’re very honored to have Greater Twin Cities United Way as a partner in this work,” Trepp said. “We are also so appreciative of everything GTCUW does to help local nonprofits keep their doors open. Right now, people need help more than ever.”