Making All the Difference (Fall 2013)


As I sat in my cluttered but comfortable office the other day, I overheard a client as he was expressing his deep appreciation for the work of one of our law clerks.  The client shared that before reaching out to ALRP, he had been so distraught at the prospect of losing his housing that he had gathered enough pills to end it all. He went on to say that the assistance he received from ALRP to secure replacement housing and avoid eviction gave him the strength to move forward.  ALRP’s legal services made all the difference to that individual. A home is a terrible thing for anyone to lose, especially when they are living with AIDS.

As we near the end of the ALRP|30 Years of Justice From the Heart Campaign, we have much to celebrate.  Our Annual Reception was our biggest and best ever. We have broken records for event sponsorship and individual major donor support.  We have a small army of dedicated volunteers and law clerks – like the one who assisted this housing client – and already this year we have recruited more than eighty new attorneys for ALRP’s Panel. That ALRP can enjoy this level of support 30 years into the epidemic is truly remarkable.

From my perspective, what constitutes success is the difference we continue to make in the lives of our clients. In a single week in November we saved three clients’ housing, secured US citizenship for another, and helped another gain access to much needed HIV health services. We can’t guarantee a successful outcome for every client, but we can ensure that people living with AIDS have someone on their side fighting for them.

This past year we lost a great friend, Jim Kellogg, a civil rights attorney who served as ALRP’s Interim Executive Director immediately prior to me.  He was a warm and generous man who lived with HIV for many years.  Just as his life inspired us, his loss helps to remind us that AIDS is not simply treated by a pill and that the epidemic is not over.

There is still much more that we have to do to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community. We still have a long way to go until everyone with AIDS has access to safe affordable housing and health care.   And with continued cuts in federal funding for HIV services, we need to be vigilant in ensuring that the City keeps its commitment to the San Francisco Model of Care, which has saved the lives of thousands of people living with HIV – something I see happen every day.  ALRP’s services are truly making all the difference.

Bill Hirsh, Esq.
ALRP Executive Director