In 1987, AIRS was founded by the faith community as a response to the AIDS epidemic. That year, AIRS opened the Don Miller House, providing compassionate housing services to men with end-stage AIDS. As the nature of HIV/AIDS has changed, we moved to provide housing along with supportive case management to the residents of these units. We began addressing specific populations that were disproportionately affected by HIV and have created effective culturally competent responses.
In an effort to address the unmet need for affordable housing for low income people with disabilities, specifically HIV/AIDS, AIRS embarked upon a five year strategic plan that set out to double the number of housing units that it owns and/or operates from 115 to 230 units by 2008. After more than two years of market research, analysis, and organizational development, the AIRS Board of Directors worked with staff to draft a business plan for the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary, now known as Empire Homes of Maryland, Inc. (EHM).
EHM was created as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) to provide property development and management to low income residents and individuals with disabilities as a means of making more housing available for our clients. The creation of EHM was also the recognition that a staff and board with development and property management experience were needed to successfully accomplish the goal of increasing available housing units. EHM was incorporated in September 2005 and operates as a separate organization with its own staff and Board of Directors. The AIRS Board of Directors maintains ultimate responsibility for both entities.
Prior to becoming a separate entity, EHM functioned as the Property & Asset division of AIRS. EHM applied for and received non-profit designation and currently provides a continuum of housing options that include transitional housing, scattered site independent living, and single family homes for families, mid-size multifamily buildings, and an assisted living facility. We serve very low incomes of 0-30% of area median income. Our creative use of resources has ensured that no individual pays more than 30% of their income for housing.
Through strategic planning and growth, AIRS own and/or operates permanent supportive housing for over 500 households throughout Baltimore City and County and services to over 2,000 individuals annually.