In the early 1990's, Mr. Tim O'Reilly, our founder, realized the need for affordable, long-term, permanent housing for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Mr. O'Reilly, while enduring his own battle with AIDS, realized that periodic bouts of illness could lead to loss of employment, one consequence of which could result in the loss of income thereby ultimately creating a homeless sub-population within the HIV/AIDS community.
Through Mr. O'Reilly's tenacious spirit and courageous persistence, CEF accomplished what many thought impossible. In 1995, through a combination of government grants and private gifts, a 12-unit efficiency apartment complex in the Montrose area was purchased, renovated by CEF, and opened exclusively for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our first apartment complex was named after Mr. John Swehla, the property's former owner. Mr. Swehla, himself HIV infected, died shortly after CEF purchased his property. Approximately one year after the death of Mr. Swehla, Mr. O'Reilly also died as a result of AIDS.
Since inception, SWEHLA HOUSE has provided over 98,000 days of housing care for
men and women of all ages and ethnic groups. Their dignity, independence and health are enhanced because they have a safe and affordable haven to call “home”.