Homeless shelters are intended to be safe places where people experiencing homelessness can sleep away from the cold. Unfortunately, they can sometimes be intimidating or threatening spaces, especially for LGBTQ individuals and individuals with HIV. The Virginia Mason-owned and operated Bailey-Boushay House in Seattle is addressing this issue through its shelter program. The program provides emergency shelter specifically for people with HIV. It is the first such shelter program in the country.
The Bailey-Boushay House shelter is intended to be a safe and secure space for people with HIV, who often experience stigma and harassment. People who stay at the shelter also have access to hot meals, a shower and laundry facilities. Currently, there are 50 beds, which are set up daily by Bailey-Boushay House staff after 8 p.m. and removed at 6:30 a.m. seven days a week. Priority is given to the most medically frail homeless men and women who receive outpatient services at the Virginia Mason facility. Bailey-Boushay House also offers rental assistance for homeless individuals with HIV, with the aim to transition people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.
“Our shelter program, which is funded by the city, allows us to provide safe, overnight housing for our most vulnerable homeless individuals, many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS or mental health issues and are sleeping on local public sidewalks,” said Bailey-Boushay House Executive Director Brian Knowles. “Safe shelter is a critically important step in their continuing treatment and medication management.”
The shelter program opened in November 2018 and has received funding to continue providing services in 2019. It was featured in a recent KOMO-TV news story.