Programming Connection

Supportive Housing Program 

AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL)
St. John’s, NL
2016

The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL) has set up housing close to counselling services. The agency has been offering the Supportive Housing Program to people living with HIV/ Hep C since 2006, and recently opened up the application criteria to people at risk of HIV / Hep C, as it became apparent that people who are using drugs or who are seeking treatment or assistance for addiction or mental health issues are also in need of affordable housing.

There are six independent living units attached to the ACNL building – its proximity to the AIDS Service Organization means that the people in this low-barrier program can easily access ACNL’s services. Angelina Butt, the Housing Coordinator and a registered social worker, has been running the program for the past year and has implemented a goal management component. She provides individuals with one-on-one counselling, helping them set personal goals and develop their skills.

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s an immense need for long-term supportive housing,” says Angelina. Individuals can stay in the program for however long they need, for a couple of months or several years. But the program provides more than a roof over people’s heads – it addresses a multitude of issues, such as links to services, daily living assistance and life-skills teaching. “Sometimes the work that I’m doing isn’t HIV- or Hep C-specific,” says Angelina. “The program focuses on an individual’s whole health because a person’s HIV or Hep C status is just one piece of their wellness.”

The program addresses any gaps or needs that prevent someone from striving. Participants are invited to recreational events like walks or yoga, educational workshops to build skills like budgeting, and wellness activities like pet therapy. ACNL relies heavily on community partnerships to offer appropriate programming. For example, weekly recreational events are offered in partnership with an outreach social worker and a mental health dietician connected with other community programs. Through co-facilitation, the group is not ACNL specific, allowing individuals to connect with a multitude of people.

ACNL is involved in various housing initiatives in the community, from monthly discussions about housing support services at the provincial prison to sitting on committees such as the Social and Supportive Housing Network and End Homelessness St. John’s, advocating for improved and targeted housing solutions.

The feedback from the community and from participants has been positive. Exit interviews conducted with those leaving the program indicate that people would like even more wraparound services such as 24 hour staff and evening/weekend programming.

For more information, contact Angelina Butt at 1-800-563-1575.