Our House History
Juniper House was the first version of Our House which started in 1988, when a small group of concerned Portlanders began to provide housing and care needs of people with AIDS. They read an article in The Oregonian about a homeless man with AIDS who died on the streets and they decided something needed to be done. They soon formed a nonprofit corporation and opened Our House, a five bed foster care facility. The monthly fund-raising goal was $1,500.
This new team quickly learned they needed more rooms and additional staff. In March of 1990, Our House moved to its present location. Volunteers raised $5,000 to renovate the facility. The capacity for residents doubled, the staff was increased and a more comprehensive program was developed.
By 1992, the monthly fund-raising goal had increased to $10,000. In less than five years, more than 100 residents had called Our House home.
In July of 1993 the Sisters of Providence purchased the building, and Our House became their tenants. During the early 1990’s, the death rate was very high and our focus was providing palliative care and grief counseling. The nursing staff consisted of two RNs who shared the 24-hour coverage. Potential residents were turned away because their need for continual care could not be met.
With the advent of the protease inhibitors in 1995, the death rate from AIDS began to decline. People with HIV started to live longer and some were able to move out on their own and live independently. The focus of our services began to change but the need was still there.
In July of 1999 the Sisters of Providence donated the building to Our House.
As people lived longer, we provided more quality of life activities and helped residents to try to do more things for themselves. To expand these services, we hired a social worker and an occupational therapist.
The Neighborhood Housing and Care Program (NHCP) was also introduced in 2004. NHCP provides Nursing Care, Occupational Therapy, and Social Work services to those who want to live independently in the community, but still need a moderate level of support.
In June 2007 Our House took over operation of Esther’s Pantry and Tod’s Corner from the Friends of People with AIDS Foundation. These programs provide monthly supplemental food, clothing, household items and case-by-case services to clients in the community.
By 2008, our expanded services include one Registered Nurse and one Certified Nursing Assistant or Certified Medication Aide on each of the three shifts at Our House. The NHCP team includes a nurse, social worker and occupational therapist who work with clients in their homes helping them to live independently.
Our 2013 budget has grown to over $2,700,000 as our services have expanded to meet more long-term needs of our residents and clients in each of our programs.
As people with HIV live longer our clinical staff is faced with addressing health issues for our residents that include diabetes, heart disease, substance abuse, mental illness and more. Often these issues are exacerbated by HIV.
Today, with nearly 30 years of experience providing healthcare for people with HIV, we are looking into ways our expertise can help people living with other chronic conditions and hope we can continue to inspire more people to live well.