On February 8, Georgia Equality invited advocates from around the city to come to the Capitol yesterday morning to speak directly with our individual representatives about the HIV epidemic in our neighborhoods. Georgia has over 56,000 people living with HIV, and in Fulton and DeKalb County, close to half of LGBTQ black men are living with HIV. The rate at which HIV is circling among homeless black men in the LGBTQ community is pretty incredible, and these are the people we are supporting through our Outreach & Community Housing work.
Housing Stability Case Manager Jenna Lee, Peer Outreach Specialist Taylor Dorsey, and Administrative Assistant Faron Brinkley represented CHRIS 180 by talking directly with our representatives who have a hand in changing these numbers. They met with a State Senator and a House Representative and both work in neighborhoods in which CHRIS 180 works. Our staff advocated for the need of more access to housing in DeKalb County. The House Representative agreed with what we were advocating for and suggested that we go to the Commissioner to more or less demand that the topic of access to affordable housing, or even an emergency shelter (which does not exist in DeKalb County), be on the table to be voted on.
Next stop: the Commissioner’s office!
Bryan is a 17-year-old youth who came into one of CHRIS 180’s group homes because of a history of criminal behavior. He grew up in an environment where kids have a hard time succeeding, almost no one graduates from high school, and poverty is hard to escape.
At CHRIS 180, he is determined to finish high school, becoming the first in his family to do so. While attending school, Bryan is also working hard to find a job and to be present in the life of his young son. Life has thrown a lot at him, but he is loving, smart, and has a great sense of humor. He’s an amazing athlete, and is vying for a basketball scholarship to go to college someday. At CHRIS 180, we are working every day to make sure he holds onto his determination and has the tools to achieve his goals.
Lacy is 17 and came to one of CHRIS 180’s group homes with a lifelong history of unbelievable hurt and trauma. At CHRIS 180, we know each kid is unique, and despite the baggage that Lacy carries, we see her for who she is loving, resilient, smart, and determined.
With our help, she balanced high school honors classes with a job at McDonald’s, and overcame all odds to graduate a year early. She is working at a daycare and saving so that this fall she can attend college. She loves music and art nothing can crush her creative spirit.
We are proud to offer her the safe home and support she needs to succeed, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.