Andrea Calo

Roosevelt Gardens provides critical housing and services to people who are HIV positive in Austin, Texas.

Developed by Project Transitions, the 40-unit community embodies the belief that “housing is health care.” Roosevelt Gardens aims to stop the spread of HIV, help end homelessness for people with HIV, improve health outcomes for individuals, and get closer to zero HIV transmissions by 2030.

“Many of our clients are not just dealing with an HIV diagnosis and the medical care that surrounds that,” says Leak Baker, interim executive director of Project Transitions. “There may be complex trauma because of homelessness. There’s also childhood trauma, addiction, and mental health. What makes Roosevelt Gardens special is that it is a comprehensive program that tries to address all these issues to help our clients live better lives.”

To create Roosevelt Gardens, the nonprofit demolished an aging apartment project in need of significant rehabilitation and built a new development, doubling the number of units and creating 5,000 square feet of community and service space. The property features studio, one-, and two-bedroom affordable homes, with a majority serving residents earning no more than 30% of the area median income.

Andrea Calo

Roosevelt Gardens was fully occupied shortly after opening last year and has a waiting list.

In the Austin area, approximately 300 people are newly diagnosed with HIV each year. “Our goal is to eradicate HIV in Central Texas, and the tool that we are using to do that is supportive housing,” Baker says.

The development also makes financial sense. Officials point out that one day of supportive housing at Roosevelt Gardens costs roughly $26 compared with $366 for a day in a recuperative care facility for a person living with HIV or $9,005 for one day of care in a Texas hospital.

The $9.1 million development is one of the first to use the city’s Affordability Unlocked program, which modifies some development restrictions in exchange for providing low- and moderate-income housing. The project is debt free, with funding raised through grants and deferred forgivable loans.