In only six months, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS organization, has bought its third property to urgently address Los Angeles’ homeless crisis. The historic King Edward Hotel, in Downtown LA, will offer housing for low-income and homeless people — and will protect their health.
“Housing is a human right,” said Rev. Kelvin Sauls, senior pastor of Holman United Methodist Church and an AHF board member, at a press conference on Monday. “And healthcare is a human right. That’s where AIDS Healthcare Foundation comes in.”
From the World Health Organization to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, major public health agencies have long considered adequate housing as a crucial element for good health. That especially holds true for people living with HIV/AIDS. AHF, which operates in 39 countries and 15 states and serves nearly 900,000 clients, understands the key connection between health and housing as well as anyone.
In 1987, AHF was founded as “AIDS Hospice Foundation,” which specialized in providing housing and medical care to terminally ill AIDS patients. At the time, people living with HIV/AIDS were too often abandoned by families and evicted by landlords only because of their medical condition. They desperately needed stable, safe shelter as they battled their disease. AHF stepped up to address the public health crisis, operating three hospices in the Los Angeles area.
Today is no different as LA faces a housing affordability crisis that’s fueling a homeless crisis in which people are literally dying in the street. In response, AHF, a longtime public health advocate, founded Healthy Housing Foundation, which operates the Madison Hotel and the Sunrise on Sunset motel in LA. Both buildings offer stable housing to low-income and homeless people. The King Edward Hotel will do the same.
At the press conference, inside the hotel’s lobby, AHF President Michael Weinstein said, “We are reinventing the King Edward for low-income and homeless people… In this wealthy country, why can’t we put a roof over everyone’s head?”
Healthy Housing Foundation by AHF Executive Director Samantha Granberry added, “We are here to ensure safe, healthy housing for the vulnerable.”