6 AUGUST 2, 2002
www.houston voice.com HOUSTON VOICE
Coalition clients displaced from homes
With the threatened closing
of Club Nsomnia, HIV/AIDS
patients served by AHCH
face a housing crisis
By ERIC ERVIN
The apartment in Montrose where
Patrick has lived for the last three
months is nothing fancy, but it's clean,
comfortable and, most importantly, economical compared to other places in this
He has a living room, a large kitchen,
eating area, and a place to sleep at night for
only $.300 a month in rent. That covers all
utilities and even his phone bill.
Patrick, who doesn't want his last
name revealed, has been HIV positive
since 1993. His current home has been
provided by the AIDS Housing Coalition
Houston, a nonprofit organization that
has arranged emergency shelter and food
for people living with HIV and AIDS for
about 10 years.
But others like Patrick may not be able
to take advantage of this service because
of the nonprofit organization's recent
The after-hours Club Nsomnia, which
funds AHCH, may be forced to close its
doors soon after allegations by the Texas
Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Agents
with the TABC raided the club the night of
July 19 and, since then, all pouring of alcohol has stopped at Nsomnia.
Now, attendance is down, donations
are all but dried up and the club's future
is in danger. Funding for the coalition is
drastically low, according to Nsomnia
CEO Matt Locklin, who is also executive
director and co-founder of AHCH, and
those who were housed in the shelter
could end up homeless.
All of the shelter's residents had to
vacate as soon as possible, as per a letter
sent out last week by the coalition.
According to the letter, a previous notification stating that tenants had until Aug.
3 to move out has been changed to
The other tenants had already moved
out of the apartments this week, leaving
only Patrick behind.
Patrick said he feels lucky because
he has somewhere else to stay, but he
feels sad for others who are not as fortunate as he.
The apartment came at a perfect time in
his life, Patrick said. He said he used to live
at a friend's house on the other side of
town, but the friend sold the home and
Apartments provided by AIDS Housing Coalition
Houston — such as those in this building in
Montrose — have made temporary homes for a
number of HIV/AIDS patients who otherwise may
have been on the streets. The drastically reduced
business at Club Nsomnia, which largely funds
AHCH, may threaten the existence of such emergency shelter. (Photo by Penny Weaver)
moved to another residence.
The apartment gave him a sense of
independence and is close to his doctor's
office in Montrose, he said.
In order to live in the apartments,
occupants must fill out an application,
verify their HIV status, and show proof
of income. Once the information is verified, clients can move in as quickly as
within a day. They're allowed to stay for a
maximum of 90 days.
"This was so easy to move into," he
said. "I called Matt up and came by and
filled out an application and within the
next couple of days I was able to move in."
No security deposit or connection fee
was required, Patrick said.
Residents at the shelter are also provided with food every week. The coalition
operates two units, which can house two
Patrick said he's thankful for the help
that the coalition has offered him, and is
sad to see its programs in danger.
"I wasn't sure where I would have
gone," he said. "It's just a good thing for
people who need it. It's a shame if it's not
going to be here anymore.
"I don't know how many people he
[Locklin] has helped, but it's a good opportunity for people," Patrick added.
Locklin said he was prompted to start
the coalition after a friend's death from
AIDS. The friend had to live on the streets
because a local service organization could
not find him a place to live.
The coalition's shelter is the only one
of its kind serving people living with HIV
and AIDS in Harris County. The organization also has offered on-site counseling
and distributed information on HIV and
AIDS from the club headquarters.
Locklin: Coalition may turn to offering emergency shelter
CLUB STRUGGlf S, continued from Page 1
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, whose district includes the Montrose area, said this
week that she will try to secure money to
keep the program running. Locklin said
club organizers will
meet with Lee in the
"We are going to see
what options we have
to keep the doors
opened," Lee said.
an said she plans to
solicit local government, religious groups,
and private donors for U.S. Rep. Sheila
funds. She said she was -Jackson Lee said this
upset when she heard week she will try to
of the news about the find financial support
AHCH shelters closing, for the program.
"I was a little angry
then disturbed," Lee said. "It provides a
vital service for the community."
Lee called upon residents to offer support.
"This is not something to overlook,"
she said. "Everyone should be concerned
She believes seeing the coalition go
under is a loss to not only the Montrose
community, but to the city of Houston as
"Our success in health in helping people living with HIV and AIDS depends on
programs like this." Lee said.
Locklin said the funding emergency
also may lead the coalition to change some
of its focus.
"We're looking at trying to open another emergency shelter," rather than fund
transitional housing, he said.
In 2001, the coalition raised $292,000
and spent nearly all of it on its programs,
according to Locklin. The group placed 45
people in housing last year, and also
offers counseling, food, assistance in paying utilities, and buying clothing and
"I get at least 10 calls a day for advice,
counseling and referrals," Locklin said.
AHCH's routine expenses include the
community center lease, apartment leases, janitorial supplies and services, and
club expenses such as a DJ, bookkeeper
and cleanup. The community center
building houses Club Nsomnia in addi
tion to serving as a site for storage, a food
bank and fund-raisers.
Most of the $292,000 the group garnered last year — $290,000 of which was
spent on its programs, Locklin said — was
raised through Club Nsomnia, which
requests a donation at the door to those
who enter the club.
Charges being filed
TABC Lt. Tracy Hudgins said this week
that the commission has asked the Harris
County District Attorney's office to pursue
charges in relation to the July 19 raid at
A charge of selling alcohol without a
license would be filed against an individual. Hudgins said, presumably
Locklin. A spokesperson for the district
attorney's intake division said
Thursday that no charge has yet been
filed. The paperwork likely is still being
processed, according to Hudgins, since
the TABC report on the operation was
just finished Wednesday.
Locklin disputes the TABC's version of
events at the club. He denies that Club
Nsomnia sells alcohol. He also alleges that
TABC agents and HPD officers at the club
on July 19 made anti-gay comments and
targeted gay clients.
"[HPD] Internal Affairs has accepted
our complaint and TABC has accepted our
complaint," Locklin said. "We've got a lot
of different people breathing down everybody's neck about this situation."
According to Hudgins, however, such a
complaint was not made about state
"We have not been accused of making
homophobic remarks," he said.
HPD officials could not be reached for
comment by press time.
Houston City Council member Annise
Parker, the only openly gay person on the
council, said her office has looked into
whether or not gays were targeted in the
raid on the club.
"We have, at this point, concluded our
investigation," Parker said Thursday.
"We've visited with TABC and with Matt
and the Houston Police Department. We
asked for anyone who might have been
present during the raid to visit with us,
and we haven't heard from anybody.
"We get completely different stories
from the two parties," she added.
"We've been unable to verify whether
there was anything inappropriate going
on when TABC came to the club, but all
of our evidence shows that Matt was
Parker said that no matter what the
cause may be for Club Nsomnia's fund-
raising, it must operate in accordance
with the law.
"The closure may have a real negative
impact on the AHCH, but the rules, particularly alcohol rules, apply to everybody."
Alternative and possibly more traditional funding sources for the group would
also require more structure for the coalition, Parker noted.
"I think it would cause an overhaul of
the organization, which is not necessarily
a bad thing," she said.
Locklin is determined to continue work
on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients in whatever way he can.
"AHCH deals with AIDS on a personal
level. We try to inspire hope in the person
again," he said. "I have a burning desire to
help people with HIV and AIDS stay off the
streets, and whatever way I can, I will."
-£ric Ervin contributerJ to this story