Friday, December 12, 2014

Alliance Homeless Forum Meeting

Friday morning I attended the Alliance Homeless Forum at the Central Branch of the Dallas Public Library. This was my first time at this extremely interesting and important meeting, and I am definitely making this a regular on my calendar. It is open to all.

The first agency spotlight was delivered by folks from AIDS Arms. They explained how their agency helps helps individuals who are HIV positive, and patients with AIDS. They specifically highlighted the special program they run to help such individuals, who are experiencing homelessness. It was fascinating to hear how they help clients where they "are", and empower individuals to direct their own care, according to their own needs.

They talked about how care is free under federal law, and compared to the past, the medication regimens are simpler, side effects are down, and testing is quicker. As with so many issues in the health and social service arena, getting people services is not only the humane thing to do; it contributes to public health, and saves the community money.

Ignorance and various misconceptions regarding AIDS (and sexuality in general) create tremendous barriers to the important work these folks do. This ignorance seems to be more prevalent than one would imagine, and seems to begin in our schools, continue in our houses of worship, and even affect some service providers.

The second agency spotlight was delivered by Ron Coward, of the Crisis Intervention team, who are social workers, who are attached to the Dallas Police Department. They mainly do outreach with persons who are experiencing homelessness and are unsheltered. They spoke about the importance of helping people who are unsheltered, specifically during cold and wet weather, and how they help folks navigate the system.

Traswell Livingston, III, the outgoing Chair of the Dallas area Continuum of Care, closed out the meeting thanking and honoring those who have been instrumental in running the forum and advocating for those experiencing homelessness.

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