DC Health conducted a virtual listening session with five people who have either experienced homelessness or who are homeless, and who were recruited from housing programs that support those living with HIV. Participants suggested that several factors might have limited the number of people who could or would attend, including the topic of the conversation, being homeless, and being HIV-positive.
Major challenges included the need to navigate various systems and the amount of time in programs, which they felt was too short. There are multiple programs available; participants believed the system needs to be more centralized so that people would not have to go from place to place to address their needs. They also expressed concern regarding the length of time they could participate in programs, saying that two years was not enough time to reestablish themselves. Additionally, some providers are aware of valuable programs and services while others are not. This made participants feel they had to do most of the legwork themselves to identify programs and services.
Participants said they are resourceful while trying to navigate broken systems and felt they could problem-solve well.
Opportunities were not addressed in this session. DC Health hopes to discuss ways to leverage the unique strengths of homeless individuals in future engagements.