Studies show that poverty is the top predictor of whether an individual will contract HIV1 and homelessness a top predictor of whether the diagnosis will be a death sentence2. With a stable home as a key factor in determining whether a person with HIV will live or die from the disease, housing is an essential resource for those at the intersection of poverty, homelessness, and HIV.

In FY21, DOORWAYS served 3,548 people. Who did we serve?

  • 100% were homeless or unstably housed. In a vicious cycle, HIV predicts homelessness and homelessness predicts HIV. On one hand, having HIV puts individuals at risk for homelessness because fragile health and the stigma cause loss of jobs, housing, and family support. Risky behaviors used for coping and survival when homeless increase the chance of becoming HIV positive. In fact, when someone becomes homeless, they are 16x more likely to contract HIV1.
  • 98% reported zero income or income below Federal Poverty Levels upon intake. The sole income for many of our clients is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which means they remain below Federal Poverty Levels even after stabilization.
  • They live in the DOORWAYS service area, which encompasses the 15-county St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and 117 under-served rural counties in Missouri and Illinois.
  • 79% were African American. Statistics by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published February 2019 show that African American males are disproportionately affected by HIV and experience poverty at higher rates than other groups.
  • 63% were male, 34% female, and 3% self-reported as transgender.
  • 51% were age 18-49 with 23% age 50+.
  • While not directly tracked, we project that nearly 60% of our clients are LGBTQ+.
  • As cuts in mental health services and the surging opioid crisis (which disproportionately impacts low-income African Americans in Missouri) push more people into homelessness, more of our clients experience mental health and substance use challenges.

Beyond demographics are the human impacts of experiencing poverty, homelessness, and illness. Many have felt invisible and ignored or been ridiculed and abused by society. For some, years of illness, shame, isolation, loneliness, fear, and neglect have stripped away trust and hope. DOORWAYS housing supported by a matrix of empowerment programs begins rebuilding their belief in a better future for themselves and their children as they expand their knowledge and begin making behavior choices that improve their lives.


Increased risk of contracting HIV

After becoming homeless.

  1. Pellowski, Jennifer, “A pandemic of the poor: social disadvantage and the U.S. HIV epidemic.” Am. Psychol. 2013 May-Jun. 68(4)197-209. Web accessed.
  2. Aidala, PhD, Angela, et. al. “Housing Status, Medical Care, and Health Outcomes Among People Living With HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review.” Am J Public Health. 2016 January. 106(1):e1-e23.