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Housing Works Community Profile: Cesar Figueroa

Housing Works Community Profile: Cesar Figueroa

Cesar Figueroa was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989. Although he worked full time and had a bachelor’s degree in education, his AIDS diagnosis—and what he assumed would be his imminent death—led to depression and homelessness. Ten years ago, he was homeless, scavenging through garbage cans in Tompkins Square Park for food and not taking medication. “I ended up in Beth Israel in a coma for three months. I almost didn’t make it. But then I found Housing Works,” Cesar said.

Now 50, Cesar has been a Housing Works client on and off for nine years. He is on the client board of directors at the Housing Works East New York Health Center. He is an active participant in the health center’s program for people over 50 living with HIV/AIDS, which has given him an opportunity to talk to others in his peer group.

The program lost its city funding this year and is in danger of closing, but Housing Works is looking into new funding opportunities. “This program is too important to me for it to disappear,” said Cesar, who has been scouring the Internet looking for grant opportunities to save the program.

Cesar was featured in this week’s New York magazine article “Another Kind of AIDS Crisis” about aging with HIV/AIDS. Cesar is also interviewed in the accompanying video, where he speaks about his struggles with dementia, neuropathy, and depression. Cesar credits Housing Works for turning his life around.

“Before I came to Housing Works I was always very depressed because I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” Cesar said. “Housing Works is like the family I don’t have. They’ve helped me advocate for myself. When I’m here I don’t have to worry about discrimination.”

Support our services for clients like Cesar and others affected by AIDS and homelessness by making an additional gift. Or, to upgrade your membership and increase your support, please email Membership or call 347-473-7454.

Posted on November 2, 2009 at 10:03 pm