As the city figures out affordable housing, PACEM and AIM join forces

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM) and the Alliance for Interfaith Ministries (AIM) are two nonprofits that started working together to house homeless elderly people with the Secure Seniors Fund.

Kimberly Fontaine, the director of AIM, said the fund was formed between the two groups because elders are the most at-risk demographic in the homeless community.

“Seniors are a special population because they’re most at risk from chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and all the things that go with that,” said Fontaine. “And when they’re homeless, they’re not able to really take care of themselves.”

The fund focuses on people ages 55 and up. Fontaine said housing is essential for that age group because nobody can expect to maintain a healthy lifestyle without a house.

“Housing first is the way that we’re all going because no one can address an addiction issue, or a health issue, behavioral health issue if they’re on the streets,” said Fontaine.

PACEM will send its elderly clients over to AIM after helping them find housing. AIM will help the clients keep their housing with up to $500 for rent and a security deposit.

Meanwhile, the Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) met on Wednesday to discuss the issue of where to put affordable housing so that groups like PACEM and AIM can keep helping people.

Anthony Haro, who attended the meeting, is the executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless. He said this is not an easy task.

“It’s difficult. We’re limited by just the number that’s available,” said Haro. “But we do our best and we try to increase the number of landlords we’re working with, try to improve the relationship with landlords.”

Fontaine said a big issue with this is finding housing that landlords are willing to make affordable and something they themselves would be willing to live in.

“We have an absolutely urgent need for affordable housing,” said Fontaine. “Liveable affordable housing.”

The Secure Seniors Fund has already received an anonymous donation of $2,000 and has two clients it is working with, but the nonprofits estimate they need to house at least 25 clients and need more than $30,000 to do it.