Thirty-six people living with HIV will move into northeast Minneapolis this August with the opening of Marshall Flats, a new apartment built on the former site of Little Jack's restaurant.
All are either very low-income or homeless, and will make the move from shelters, cars, or the spare couches of family and friends.
These 36 were chosen from a waiting list of 380 on a first-come, first-serve basis, says Chuck Peterson of Clare Housing, the nonprofit that built Marshall Flats and will continue to staff it.
The residents have spent an average of two years waiting for new 500-square-foot studio apartments. They'll pay 30 percent of their income toward rent, and are welcome to stay as long as they need.
The idea is that stable housing frees those infected with HIV to stay on top of their medications, preventing the spread of a disease that currently has no cure, but could be reduced to undetectable levels with proper monitoring, Peterson says.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 290 more people were found with HIV in 2016. Nearly half were white males, and although most cases took place in the Twin Cities suburbs, Greater Minnesota is on the rise with a 41 percent increase from 2015.
At the same time, Clare Housing reported that 87 percent of their 200 residents spread across three apartment buildings and scattered housing had undetectable levels of HIV, while 96 percent were receiving regular checkups.
"Our work slows the spread of the disease benefitting first our clients who live healthier lives and then those living in our neighborhoods and cities who are protected from a disease without a cure," Peterson says.
As for the hundreds who are still waiting for housing, Peterson says Clare Housing doesn't currently have any additional developments in the works. However, he expects to complete a plan next month with the HIV Housing Coalition to determine the exact demand for housing among those living with HIV and AIDS.
The public is invited to the grand opening of a new apartment at 2525 NE 2nd Street for people with HIV on July 26, 5-7 p.m.