FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)
1. What federal program was used to purchase SWEHLA HOUSE?
SWEHLA HOUSE was purchased and renovated with a grant provided by the City of Houston and Harris County through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Specifically, HUD categorized our grant under the federal section titled "Housing Opportunity for People with AIDS (HOPWA)".
2. What were the primary requirements for SWEHLA HOUSE under HOPWA?
The primary covenants of our grant were that (1) our tenants be HIV-positive, (2) their rent not exceed 30% of their income, and (3) that we adhere to (1) and (2) for a period of 10 years. Our two-year grant covenant restrictions expired in August, 2005, thereby allowing CEF the legal discretion to sell or rent units at SWEHLA HOUSE to whomever it chooses. However, it is the sincere commitment of our board, as it was that our original founder, to continue our mission of providing affordable, long-term, permanent housing for persons with HIV/AIDS as long as there is a need.
3. As a resident of SWEHLA HOUSE, how much will I pay in rent?
Your rent will be on a sliding scale based on your total gross income. In addition, you will be responsible for paying electricity. All other costs such as water, trash pickup, gas, etc...,will be paid by SWEHLA HOUSE.
4. How can I lease a unit at SWEHLA HOUSE?
SWEHLA HOUSE only accepts referrals from social service agencies that provide case management. Therefore, a case manager is required as one of the prerequisites to be considered as a possible candidate for residency at SWEHLA HOUSE. In addition, candidates must have a verifiable source of income, must not have had a felony within five years and must be prepared to successfully pass a drug test. SWEHLA HOUSE has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to the use, possession and trafficking of controlled substances.
5. Why is a case manager required for me to live at SWEHLA HOUSE?
First, SWEHLA HOUSE only advertises through agencies that provide case management and therefore a potential resident would not be aware of a vacancy at SWEHLA HOUSE unless he/she is connected to a case management system.
Second, the case manager can provide our clients with psycho-social services which extend beyond the scope of our housing mission. Case management services include but are not limited to: (1) drug and alcohol abuse treatment, (2) counseling,(3) mental health assessment, (4) nutritional services,(5) in-service housing care when required, and (6) assistance in gaining access to local, state and federal government benefits and services.
6. How long can I reside at SWEHLA HOUSE?
SWEHLA HOUSE is a permanent, long-term HIV housing complex; therefore the terms of the tenancy generally reside with the resident. However, SWEHLA HOUSE does maintain a stringent, but fair set of rules and regulations which must be adhered to at all times. Each potential resident will be provided these rules and will be asked to review and acknowledge their ability to comply before being considered for residency.
7. Are there other HIV housing facilities similar to SWEHLA HOUSE in Houston?
HOPWA has provided housing grants for the following types of housing in Houston since 1992:
(1) Emergency shelter/short-term residences
(2) Transitional residences
(3) Permanent long-term
Of the items enumerated above, only item (3) is long-term, whereas the remaining items (1) and (2) are short-term in nature. Of the permanent long-term category, there are approximately four (4) organizations that provide this type of housing of which CEF is included. According to the CITY OF HOUSTON'S DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPEMENT, as of February 2008, there were less than 200 apartment units in the city designated as affordable, long-term permanent housing for people with AIDS.
8. Who are the case management agencies that make up the contact list for SWEHLA HOUSE?
An abbreviated list of our case management agencies are: AIDS Foundation Houston, AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas, Catholic Charities AIDS Ministry, Family Services of Greater Houston, Fort Bend Family Health Center, Houston Area Community Services (HACS), Montrose Counseling Center, New Hope Counseling Ctr., Legacy Community Health Services, St. Hope Foundation and Harris County Hospital District.
9. How large of the apartments?
All of our units are approximately 475 sq. ft. and are classified as zero-bedroom efficiency units.
10. Tell me more about the furnishing of the apartment units.
All units are unfurnished but do come fully equipped with separate central air and heat units, refrigeration and stove.
11. Do you maintain a waiting list?
Since the turnover rate at SWEHLA HOUSE is relatively low, maintaining a waiting list would be unproductive.
12. What makes SWEHLA HOUSE unique?
The unique nature of SWEHLA HOUSE rests with the fact that it provides, along with four other agencies, permanent, long-term housing that is (1) safe, (2) secure and (3) affordable.
13. Does SWEHLA HOUSE work with other HIV/AIDS housing agencies?
Yes. When a vacancy occurs, we advertise to other HIV/AIDS housing agencies (see agencies under #8), which provide transitional and emergency shelter housing. The purpose of this collaboration is to graduate individuals from temporary housing to permanent housing in an effort to provide them with stability and self-sufficiency.
14. Are there more long-term permanent apartment units being built or renovated currently?
Currently, the primary focus of the City of Houston is providing rental/mortgage assistance for people with AIDS. While this is a noble gesture, it is temporary in nature and does not adequately address the fact that people with AIDS are living longer and require permanent housing.
15. Why is permanent long-term housing so important?
According to one 2011 housing area HIV/AIDS needs assessment, there are a large percentage of persons with HIV/AIDS who are currently homeless or have been homeless within the past 12 months. As stated before, proper medical compliance requires stable housing.
In addition, those that reside in HIV shelters or transitional housing facilities can only reside at these units for a short period. Therefore, must seek alternative housing elsewhere thereby creating a further instability in their lives.