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Friday, August 15, 2014

Save Marty's Place: AIDS Residential Home Hopes to Reopen With Your Help

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

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Marty's Place, a residential home for people with AIDS, has launched a fundraising drive, hoping to reopen as a co-op — and you and your checkbook are invited to the open house Monday.

Marty's Place was founded by Richard Purcell, a Franciscan friar, who came to San Francisco in 1989 to care for his brother Marty, who was dying of AIDS. Marty died eight weeks after his brother's arrival. Purcell, who passed away in 2011, decided to stay in San Francisco to care for people with AIDS.

In 1993, he acquired a Victorian mansion in the Mission. Naming the home after his late brother, Purcell opened Marty's Place, which served as a resource for AIDS victims for 18 years.
In 2010, Purcell fell ill and Marty's Place closed. But a recent campaign to reopen Marty's Place started in hopes to revive the place where people living with AIDS had always found community.

"Marty's Place represents a unique opportunity to become an incubator for the next generation of HIV-positive leaders," Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance, told SF Weekly. "We are creating not just an affordable home in this hyper-gentrified real estate craze, but an institute for leadership development and skills building."
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"After 30 years of activism, we are losing leadership to retirement and burnout. Added to that is the attrition due to eviction and displacement that is eroding our leadership and institutional leadership. And yes, people are still dying of AIDS," he added.

Marty's Place will be an affordable Godsend to those who live with HIV. When reopened, a private bedroom will cost $800 per month, while a shared room will go for $450 per month.

Longtime housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee is part of the coalition which is working towards reopening Marty's Place. He says the committee is trying to collect $250,000 for much-needed renovations on top of other costs that are involved with recruiting and training the co-op members who will live there.

Mecca noted that people living with AIDS are facing the same struggles as everyone else in San Francisco: high rents that are forcing them out of the city. 

"It has nothing to do with the disease being manageable," he said. "AIDS housing is still needed because rents are astronomically high and many people with AIDS can't afford them," he said.
Beyond that, Marty's Place is a piece of San Francisco history that needs to be revived, said Mecca. "It's what people think of when they think of our city, a place of caring for everybody," he said. "Remember that San Francisco was once called the model of caring for people with AIDS. Marty's Place is part of that legacy." 

If you're feeling extra generous on Monday head over to Marty's Place at 5 p.m., located at 1165 Treat St., between 24th and 25th Streets. Don't forget your wallet. 
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