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Atlanta Launches Innovative Program to Assist the Homeless

  • This program is Georgia’s first-ever initiative to re-house individuals still using drugs/alcohol
  • The innovative program provides wraparound services for the homeless: medical/pharma, mental health, substance use and other services
  • January 2022 Aniz will be providing medical insurance for members currently on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)

Aniz, Inc., Atlanta Georgia has signed an agreement with Partners for Home (hereafter “PFH”) to provide re-engagement and intervention services to the Atlanta homeless population. The re-engagement component of the program includes job readiness training and linkage to qualifying housing. The intervention component involves mental health counseling, HIV and Hepatitis C transmission education and linkage to primary care.

“This is the culmination of 25 years of work. It is my life’s work”, states Aniz Founder, Zina Age.

Aniz, Inc. has provided services to over 100,000 disadvantaged Atlantians population since 1996. At times, Aniz has faced resistance to its ground-breaking holistic harm reduction approach to addiction and other Health Disparities (including HIV) as the approach relates to substance intervention and abstinence only programs.

As an extension of that agreement, Aniz, Inc. has launched its SODAH (Serving Our Disadvantaged and Homeless) program to provide housing to all referred individuals, regardless of whether they are still using. This program insures no individual is homeless just because he/she is not currently sober.

Individuals referred by PFH are rehoused according to the needs demonstrated in their psycho-social intake evaluation. The rehousing may also include assistance in locating apartments, signing leases, providing rental assistance, and meeting basic needs. In some cases the individuals are referred to group homes, while others may be referred to hotel rooms leased by Aniz for temporary shelter.

“In the world’s wealthiest nation, we shouldn’t have people dying in the streets”, Ms. Age emphatically adds.

Aniz first partnered with PFH in late 2019 to develop a framework for addressing the needs of the homeless using principles of “holistic harm reduction”. “Holistic harm reduction” is a set of practical strategies aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with substance use.

However, “[i]t is a mistake to believe that all homeless people are substance users”, comments Ms. Age. “These individuals present primarily with mental health issues. Very often, they have also been subjected to some type of trauma.”

To meet the needs of these individuals, Aniz provides wrap around services which may include mental health counseling, access to pharmaceuticals, and job training. Where needs exist that are not met by Aniz, Aniz has developed agreements with collaborative partners to backfill those needs.

It is estimated that there are more than 3,200 homeless individuals in Atlanta.

Last updated on September 7, 2021

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