50 Years of Collecting at Georgia State University
Jerusalem House & Joining Hearts
Jerusalem House is Atlanta’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS permanent supportive housing provider. Conceived of in 1988 and opened in 1989, its road to completion was not easy. Some local residents strongly and vocally opposed the facility. The papers of Jim Allen documents this fight through his editorials to the AJC describing the plight of people with AIDS and of Allen Wood’s papers with his efforts to help with zoning approval for the care facility. Others provided enthusiastic support, such as the Jason Hall papers whose records illustrate his work as a member of the Host Committee of Joining Hearts, an organization that plans and implements fundraising events for the Jerusalem House.
“Jerusalem House is the hospice for people with AIDS in Druid Hills. When they decided that they needed this facility, there was an incredible amount of pushback from the neighborhood. A woman who lived on the street behind where this facility would be built organized a campaign in her neighborhood, saying, ‘People with AIDS are going to be hiding in the bushes with needles and they’re going to be raping your children.’ So the people who were trying to get Jerusalem House going came to us [ACT UP] and said, ‘Can you help us?’ We organized an information campaign and a petition drive, and we got the help of the mailmen in who were carrying petitions and knocking on the doors of the people they were delivering mail to. We canvassed heavily, and went door-to-door, educating people on HIV/AIDS, and what not to be afraid of and how you did not get it.
All of the work for Jerusalem House came to a head with a hearing at City Council. One of our members, who was a librarian at a law firm: she went up to talk. She lived in the building that they were going to use to make this hospice. She said, ‘I hear all these people talking about how this is going to affect their homes in such a negative way. Well, I live in the building where this is going to be. I’m going to lose my home because of this, and I can’t think of a better reason than for this worthy cause to give up my home.’ The chambers erupted into wild applause, and the owner who was leading the fight against it realized at that moment that she had lost. The Council approved their application to build the hospice there. As we know, it has not affected property values.” Andrew Wood, June 24, 2014