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Gregory House director honored


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POSTED: Monday, November 30, 2009

Jonathon Berliner, executive director of Gregory House Programs, Hawaii's only statewide HIV/AIDS housing provider, will be honored tomorrow at a World AIDS Day observance.

He will receive the Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award from the state Health Department's STD/AIDS Prevention Branch for outstanding contributions to HIV/AIDS services in the community.

The award will be presented at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at St. Clement's Church, 1515 Wilder Ave.

It is presented annually in memory of Richmond-Crum, former director of the Hawaii Seropositivity and Medical Management Program, an HIV/AIDS medical care program in the prevention branch. She died in August 2004.

Youth Leadership Challenge awards also will be announced.

Berliner, who has headed Gregory House Programs since July 2005, has been invited to the White House Dec. 17 to share his knowledge and experience with a national planning group for HIV/AIDS and housing.

He said President Barack Obama charged the White House Office of National AIDS Policy with developing a national HIV/AIDS strategy within three goals:

1. Reduce HIV incidence.

2. Improve access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS.

3. Reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities.

The strategy recognizes the importance of adequate housing services to achieve the president's goals, said Berliner, a board officer of the National AIDS Housing Coalition and a board member of the AIDS Institute, both in Washington, D.C.

He served for 12 years as executive director of the Maui AIDS Foundation before taking the position at Gregory House Programs and turning it into a thriving organization from one saddled with debt.

Gregory House owed $237,747 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development when he took over because it had not appropriately implemented a HUD-funded program. He negotiated for redesign of the program, implemented it and paid down the debt to HUD, with a final payment early this year.

The program involved was the Community Residential Program, which has expanded to three Oahu group homes and serves the most vulnerable clients with HIV/AIDS, including the homeless and those with chronic substance abuse and mental health challenges.