Maine HIV/AIDS Housing Facility To Close, Cites Declining Demand
The only assisted living facility in Maine that cares specifically for HIV-positive people, Peabody House, will close by the end of the year because of declining demand, officials at the Frannie Peabody Center said Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reports. Patti Capouch, executive director of the Frannie Peabody Center, said the closing of Peabody House, which opened in 1995, reflects the fact people living with HIV/AIDS now are able to better manage the disease and live longer because of new antiretroviral drugs.
According to the Press Herald, Peabody House since 2005 has been fully occupied for only 10 out of 42 months. During the same time period, HIV-positive people showed greater need for assistance with independent housing, which the center supports by providing $1 million in grant-funded vouchers each year. "So we're really going to be shifting our focus (to) independent housing programs," Capouch said.
Capouch said that Peabody House will remain open until alternative housing and support services are found for the five people currently living in the facility. Capouch also said that only Peabody House will close; the center will continue to provide prevention programs and other HIV/AIDS services to more than 1,000 people across the state annually. "HIV has not gone away," Capouch said, adding, "We enrolled more people last year in our case management program than we ever have in the history of the organization, so we've got a lot of work to do."
Chris Behan, a founder and former board member of Peabody House, said that although he understands that Peabody House cannot financially sustain itself without six full-time residents and state health care subsidies, he is concerned for those who still need similar services. "I'm happy that Peabody House isn't needed as much as it was in the past, but some people still need that level of support," Behan said. He added, "Peabody House was a miracle because the community came together and supported it. Now, the burden is on the community once again to care for its most vulnerable people" (Bouchard/Goad, Portland Press Herald , 8/27).