Housing Works, Shelter Kills!

  • Benjamin Shepard City University of New York


While first and foremost an oral history of a radical social service/social movement organization, "Housing Works, Shelter Kills!" is also the story of a broad impulse in AIDS and human rights activism. Housing Works was founded in 1990 to house a socially vulnerable population of homeless active drug users with AIDS—those usually turned away from other housing programs. Today, it is the nation's largest minority controlled AIDS service organization. The success of Housing Works can be attributed to an approach to social services built on combinations of fierce advocacy, client centered clinical care, rambunctious engagement, and community building. Through their re-invention of the Ghandian/U.S. Civil Rights repertoire of non-violent civil disobedience, Housing Works helped pave the way for the acceptance of harm reduction as a best practice approach to AIDS service.

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