AIDS Healthcare Foundation responds to those with questions concerning the AIDS organization’s involvement with the ‘mega’ development ballot measure.
LOS ANGELES (April 8, 2016) In a new editorial advertisement that appears in the April 8-14 issue of LA Weekly, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) explains its decision to spearhead the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a proposed measure that will appear on the March 2017 ballot. The measure seeks to halt runaway residential development in Los Angeles and curtail the tendency of city officials to circumvent the city’s General Plan to rubber stamp large-scale developments that fail to address its well-documented affordable housing shortage. The statement comes in response to recently published articles that question AHF on using its resources to address local issues regarding development, housing, and city planning. In a letter to the editor, one LA Times reader asks: “What possible harm could the building of these residences inflict on AIDS patients?”
In its ad, AHF responds:
“At its heart, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) is a social justice organization. Over the past three decades, our fight has centered on health disparities of people living with AIDS and other infectious diseases. Over the course of this battle, AHF has taken on many related issues including racism, gender inequality, immigration policies and various kinds of stigma. […] Holistic health embraces the totality of what is required to keep someone healthy. Protecting the public health in a broad context involves embracing a person’s full humanity.”
AHF gives examples of how gentrification negatively affects the lives of AHF’s patients and staff:
“Our staff and clients are suffering because of the changes that are taking place in Los Angeles. More and more of our patients are homeless. Our staff cannot afford to live close to where they work and sit in snarled traffic for hours every day. […] All the privileges are going to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle-income people. Affordable housing is torn down to make way for luxury towers. Stable, diverse communities are being displaced by expensive condos, trendy shops and costly restaurants and bars. This is not progress—it is displacement.”
As a global public health organization with international headquarters in Los Angeles since 1987, AHF has a duty—both locally and across the globe—to address the full scope of its patients’ health needs and quality of life. In addition to crime and violence, housing environment is considered to be a key factor in affecting human health, especially for low-income and/or ethnic minority communities. According to a report from Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA), “research and practice have demonstrated that safe, stable housing provides the essential foundation for successful management of HIV and other chronic diseases.” The report also states that half of Americans living with HIV will experience homelessness or housing instability at some point following their diagnosis.
Through the passage of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, AHF seeks to curb unnecessary and over-scaled residential developments that displace low- and middle-income residents and endanger L.A.’s underserved HIV-positive residents.
AHF generates the bulk of its revenue through its national network of pharmacies, thrift stores, and health care centers and does not rely on individual or group contributions for its $1.3 billion operating budget. As a result, AHF is empowered to pursue a diverse set of advocacy initiatives to benefit its clients and society at large. From its frontline efforts to extinguish Ebola in West Africa to its grassroots campaign to remove the Confederate symbol from the Mississippi state flag, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative joins a series of pressing social issues where AHF has taken a stand—or led the charge for change.