After counseling many HIV/AIDS patients in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, psychologist Betty Finney became increasingly aware of the special needs of this population. She noticed a dramatic increase in homelessness among families living with HIV/AIDS. In 1988, she presented this problem to her church community and from there started a committee specifically designed to meet the housing needs of this population.
The Betty Finney House Corporation is what evolved from this committee. Funded through local, state and federal grants, individual donations and fundraising events, it is now a housing organization whose purpose is to provide the practical, emotional and spiritual resources individuals infected with HIV/AIDS need to maintain control of their own lives. With a current staff of about 20 volunteers, who work at night and on weekends, along with two paid workers, the organization runs several programs assisting both low income individuals and those living with HIV/AIDS in Lancaster County and their families by providing housing and/or financial assistance.
They provide support for their clients in three main ways. The first is a four-unit apartment building located in Lancaster City, which is used to provide independent housing units for families and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Living in this apartment building provides them with subsidized rent/affordable housing, the ability to maintain their independence and the opportunity to socially interact with and care for neighbors.
The organization's Extension Program keeps families together in their own homes by providing rental or mortgage subsidies, budgeting and financial counseling, case management services, referral services and housing inspections to ensure that certain living standards are met.
The Betty Finney House Corporation also provides service to low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS through their Group Home Project. This project provides the housing needs for up to three individuals per group home. In addition to the services offered in the Extension Program, the Group Home Project also provides permanent housing for persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS that are currently living in shelters or the streets.
The Betty Finney House Corporation currently serves more than 67 clients and is continuing to grow and expand. It has recently opened a new group home in Lebanon County with plans to establish all of their programs and services within the Lebanon community.
The organization also serves as a living memorial to those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Many of the volunteers either know someone who has been helped by the organization or volunteer as a tribute to the memory of someone they have lost to the disease.