Bailey House is thrilled to announce that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently renewed our Project FIRST (Formerly Incarcerated Rental Support and Training) program with a $1,081,922 grant. Project FIRST provides housing placement and other re-entry support for HIV-positive individuals recently released from prison.
Since our founding in 1983, Bailey House’s approach has been that Housing is Healthcare for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses. HUD Secretary Juliàn Castro echoed that core tenet when he stated that “Housing and health go hand in hand…Having a stable place to live can make all the difference.”
Project FIRST has transformed the lives of more than 800 people since 2003 by providing housing and housing referrals. In addition to housing assistance and connection to medical care and HIV treatment, the initiative partners with Bailey House’s Independent Living Skills program to improve participants’ self-management skills and ensure that they have access to vocational training and job placement assistance.
Formerly incarcerated individuals often encounter discrimination while searching for housing and jobs, and the additional stigma of HIV, four times as prevalent among incarcerated populations as among the general public, creates another barrier. These significant obstacles lead to disproportionate rates of unemployment (54% among formerly incarcerated people) and homelessness; at least 25% of homeless individuals have a history of incarceration. They also face extremely high rates of substance use (80%) and mental illness (30%), adding another layer of difficulty to successful re-entry into their communities. To ensure that their unique needs are met, Project FIRST provides linkage to primary and behavioral healthcare through Bailey House’s care coordination programs as well as offering housing and skill-building support.