Institute for Community Research
HIV Risk Among Low-Income Urban Residents

HIV Risk Among Low-Income Urban Residents

Housing project

Drug Use, Housing Access, Stability and HIV Risk Among Low-Income Urban Residents

This 4-year study explored the relationship between structural factors of housing (access to housing subsidies and programs, status and stability) and HIV risk among low-income drug users compared to non-drug users. In particular, the project tested hypotheses that drug users have less access to federal, state and local housing subsidies and programs, and that housing instability increases drug users’ HIV risk. We conducted a survey with drug using and non-drug using low-income residents in the city of Hartford, Connecticut, and an adjacent peri-urban/suburban town, East Hartford to compare low-income drug users’ and low-income non-drug users’ access to housing and social services, and their housing stability over time in the two study towns controlling for personal characteristics. We specifically explored the relationship of housing access to drug use and housing status/stability, and the relationship between housing status and HIV risk for drug using and non-drug using low-income residents. The study also explored differences in program requirements and supportive services offered by different supportive housing programs and their impact on applicants’ access to supportive housing programs, maintenance of housing stability, and drug use and HIV risk behaviors.

Principle Investigator: Julia Dickson-Gomez, PhD, can be reached at

Project Staff

Medical College of Wisconsin
Julia Dickson-Gomez, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Jill Owczarzak, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator/ Ethnographer

Timothy McAuliffe, Ph.D.

Yvonne Stevenson M.S.
Research Scientist/Study Coordinator

Leah Przdwiecki
Data Specialist

Razia Azen

Mark Convey, M.A.
Research Associate/Project Director

Margaret R. Weeks, Ph.D.

Ellen Cromley, Ph.D.
Medical Geographer

Eduardo Robles
Interviewer/Community Outreach

Gregory Palmer
Interviewer/Community Outreach


Please read the project abstract here.


Dickson-Gomez, J; McAuliffe, T.; Obidoa, C.; Quinn, K.; Weeks, M.R. (2016). The relationship between housing subsidies and supportive housing on neighborhood distress and housing satisfaction: Does drug use make a difference? Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 11(1): 20. PMID: 27233496.

Owczarzak, J.; Dickson-Gomez, J.; Convey, M. & Weeks, M.R. (2013). What is “Support” in Supportive Housing: Client and Service Providers’ Perspectives. Human Organization, 72(3):254-262. PMID: 25477620; PMC4251799.

Dickson-Gomez, J., McAuliffe, T., Convey, M., Weeks, M.R., & Owczarzak, J. (2011) Access to housing subsidies, housing status, drug use and HIV risk among low-income U.S. urban residents. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. Nov. 23;6(1):31. PMID: 22112385; PMC3283493.

Dickson-Gomez, J., Convey, M., Hilario, H., Weeks, M.R., and Corbett, M. (2009) Hustling and Housing: Drug users’ strategies to obtain shelter and income in Hartford, CT. Human Organization 68 (3): 269-279.

Dickson-Gomez, J., Hilario, H., Convey, M., Corbett, M., Weeks, M.R., and Martinez, M. (2009). The Relationship between Housing Status and HIV Risk among Active Drug Users: A Qualitative Analysis. Substance Use and Misuse, 44: 139-162. PMID: 19142817; PMC2646376.

Dickson-Gomez, J. Convey, M., Hilario, H., Corbett, A.M., and Weeks, M.R. (2007) Unofficial policy: Access to housing information and services among homeless drug users in Hartford, CT. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, March 7 (2):8 ff. PMID: 17343735; PMC1828723.