Project Lazarus provides transitional housing to people living with HIV/AIDS who have no other place to live. The agency has two large buildings with each separated into two 'houses'. Resident rooms are uniquely furnished and decorated, and residents may choose to decorate and individualize them as they wish. They are all equipped with cable television and telephones. Additionally, the houses have common living areas and bathrooms as well as family style kitchens that never close. Project Lazarus encourages maximum independence, but provides minimum to total care based on individual need.
Men and women come to Project Lazarus in various stages of health, and care is individualized according to each person's needs. These needs are evaluated at least weekly, and care plans are adjusted as necessary. To date, more than 1000 men and women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS have called Lazarus their home, and many have died at Lazarus. The stigma and fear continues as many of them have been shunned by family and friends, and find the companionship, love, and care at Lazarus that they so desperately need. All staff members work interchangeably within the four houses, creating a bond between them and the residents.
Project Lazarus serves New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. The area has the 5th highest incidence of AIDS in the United States, and the population of Project Lazarus is reflective of the AIDS epidemic locally. The average length of stay for a resident is 12 months, and the population is generally 70% minority and 30% white. Over the past year, a shift in demographics has been noted in that women now comprise over 30% of our residents, which increases every year. The average age is over 40 years and all our residents fall below 80% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Project Lazarus maintains a strong network of relationships with other organizations that serve the homeless and people with AIDS, particularly those who serve the poor and indigent. Written agreements exist between Project Lazarus and more than a dozen other service providers, in addition to many other informal collaborations. As the oldest and largest provider of AIDS housing services in Louisiana, Project Lazarus has continued to provide responsive programming to meet the needs of the community, provide leadership to other organizations who wish to duplicate the services in other parts of the country, and maintain the integrity of its mission to provide compassionate care to those in need.
Funding sources include federal grants such as Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA), Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act, and UNITY of Greater New Orleans, which offers grants for individuals who are homeless. These federal grants provide for about 55% of our total operating budget. The remaining funds are accessed through regular fund-raising activities, grants from private corporations, foundations, and donations from private individuals. Funds are sought not only for essential care, but also for such things as recreational activities, and comfortable bedding and furnishings. Additionally, nutritious and appetizing meals are provided, many of which must accommodate special dietary needs such as those associated with hypertension, diabetes and other medical conditions.
Project Lazarus provides services not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or any other insurance, and is dependent on public and private support to continue its work. It is unique both in the aesthetic environment it offers, and in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life of its residents. The agency is well known for its excellence in service and for its commitment to providing more than basic food and shelter. Lazarus nurtures the mind and spirit, as well as the body. It offers residents a place where they can get the comprehensive care they need, a means to find personal peace, and most important, a home where their life is shared by people who love and care for them. Determined to meet these goals, Lazarus continues to aggressively seek funding to offer a setting that celebrates life, and when the time comes, allows each person to die with dignity.
Our Relationship to the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Project Lazarus, while an independent, non-denominational and non-profit organization, is sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The Archdiocese generously donates the use of the buildings for the programs. However, the renovation, repairs, and maintenance of the facility is the responsibility of Project Lazarus, as well as all operating costs which amount to over one-million dollars annually. The Archdiocese contributes $50,000.00 annually to assist with the utility bills.
The agency is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors with Sister Anthony Barczykowski, D.C., serving as the Archdiocesan Liaison to the Board of Directors. Project Lazarus has full financial and fund-raising responsibilities for its operations, repairs, renovations, and maintenance. A common misunderstanding is that Project Lazarus is part of Catholic Charities. While we are an affiliate of the Archdiocese, we are an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.