Antonio Brown wants to fix HIV housing, create LGBTQ center as mayor

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Councilmember Antonio Brown – the only LGBTQ candidate in the Atlanta mayoral race – wants to cut new HIV rates and deaths by nearly half, reform the city’s HIV housing program and create a new LGBTQ community center if elected.

Brown announced the initiatives in June, one month after jumping into the mayoral race. He’s putting together a roundtable discussion with experts to formulate a plan to cut HIV rates and deaths by 40 percent during his mayoral tenure.

“The discussion will be happening during my campaign so that when I’m elected, there’s a plan in action already in place to move forward,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “The research has already been done and there are cities that have already been successful in doing this work.”

Metro Atlanta has the second-highest rate of new HIV infections of any metro area in the U.S. behind Miami, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Brown also wants to shuffle management of HOPWA, the city’s long-troubled federal housing program for low-income people with HIV. He would transfer administration of the program to the Office of Housing & Community Development. It’s currently managed by the Office of Grants & Community Development.

“We’re just still experiencing some issues and I believe that at this point we’ve got to do something different,” he said. “We’ve got to take accountability for some of the programs that aren’t working.”

The move is part of a broader effort by Brown to assist people experiencing homelessness.  

“There’s a ton of LGBTQ youth that remain unhoused in the city that are living under our bridges and suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues and we need to do a better job of bringing them into the fold,” he said.

Brown wants to create a tiny homes development called Beloved Village to house the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“What I imagine it being is this incredible community of individuals that come from diverse backgrounds and industries that are seeking housing,” he said.

Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Brown wants to create a new LGBTQ community center as mayor. (Photo by Matt Hennie)

LGBTQ center needed for people to ‘be who they are’

Brown also wants to create a new LGBTQ community center in Atlanta similar to the Los Angeles LGBT Center. That facility offers healthcare, social services, housing, cultural arts, education and leadership training.

“I think it’s time that we have a community center for the LGBTQ+ community where they can have an environment that is conducive of success where they can have access to resources and opportunities housed in this center,” Brown said.

“A safe place where people from the LGBTQ community are free to express themselves and be who they are without having to feel different,” he added.

Brown wants input from LGBTQ Atlantans to decide what they want from the center.

“It should be diverse in regard to the programming, the initiatives, the event space,” he said.

The Rush Center was the city’s LGBTQ community center until closing in 2020. Its tenants included several prominent LGBTQ organizations, and the center hosted LGBTQ events in its annex. The physical Rush Center facility still houses Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, Pets Are Loving Support and All-1-Family. The annex was leased to another tenant.

Brown became the first Black LGBTQ member of the Atlanta City Council in 2019. He would become the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor if elected.

A federal grand jury indicted Brown on seven fraud charges in 2020. The case has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, but an evidentiary hearing was held in April. Brown said he was “absolutely innocent” when he launched his campaign in May.

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