GRIP Advocates for Homeless Persons Living with HIV/AIDS

By Kia Croom

The Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) is a local agency that is active in the fight to against HIV/AIDS.
In 2012, GRIP was the newest agency to join the Contra Costa County HIV/AIDS Consortium as a recipient of funding from Housing Opportunities for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.
The agency uses the  funds to provide Housing Advocacy Services to 60 homeless or at risk West County residents living with HIV/AIDS, currently employing two housing advocates who are committed to helping clients find safe and quality rental housing.
“Homelessness in and of itself is devastating. For a person with a chronic health condition, such as HIV/AIDS, it is a nightmare,” said said Lynna Magnuson-Parrish, Resource Center Program Manager.
“HOPWA funding helps us better serve a growing subpopulation of ours—that is homeless persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our housing advocates help HOPWA clients find housing and qualify for emergency financial assistance,” she said.
GRIP serves clients in the West County cities of Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole, Rodeo, El Cerrito, Crockett and Hercules. A recent epidemiology report issued by the Costa Health Services indicates that Richmond has a higher concentration of residents with HIV/AIDS than any other city in the county, with 369 residents. Concord follows with 271 residents.
“Our suspicion is there are more cases in Richmond that are unreported. We want West County community members who are positive or suspect they are positive to know we are here to help. We will orient them to the county AIDS system of care. Having a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence it was once believed to be,” Magnuson-Parrish said.
Community members interested in learning more about GRIP’s HIV/AIDS services can call (510) 233-2141 or stop by the GRIP Program office at 165 22nd St. in Richmond.