Community Raises Concerns About AIDS Organization That Runs Nightclub Out of Its Headquarters
Residents of the Montrose area in Houston, Texas, are raising concerns about a nightclub run out of the offices of the AIDS Housing Coalition Houston Inc., an organization that helps people with HIV find affordable housing, the Houston Chronicle reports. Neighbors of the club, Nsomnia, which operates from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday, said that the club "seems incongruous" with the coalition's mission of helping people with HIV and asked if the coalition could not find a better way of raising money. "As a gay man who has worked for several charities, it seems odd to pull in money that way," Jeffrey Cole, president of the Avondale Association, a neighborhood group, said, adding that the club was an "eyesore" that attracts "drug and alcohol users" to a neighborhood "already overburdened with bars." According to Cole, several neighbors have complained about "loud noise and unruly behavior" from the club. The club, which does not serve alcohol, brings in between $4,000 and $6,000 a week, according to the coalition's executive director, Matt Locklin. He said donations are taken at the door, and people can buy mixers to use with their own alcohol for $3. Food is also sold at the club. Locklin said his group, which has an annual budget of $35,000 to $70,000, does not want to apply for government grants because there are "too many strings attached." The group is looking to get a liquor license so the club can generate more money. The Avondale Association successfully opposed the club's last bid for a liquor license in 1999. Locklin acknowledged that his group's approach is "ironic," but added that "at the same time we've taken what some people may see as a negative and turned it into a positive." He said that the group forbids the use of drugs at the club and counsels patrons about safe sex. According to Dave Roberts, operations director for Bering Omega Community Services, another not-for-profit group that assists people with HIV/AIDS, the coalition is "expert" at finding housing for people with HIV and also refers them to social service agencies and other not-for-profit groups that may be able to assist them in other ways (Lezon/Zuniga, Houston Chronicle, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.