Chicago House & Social Service Agency serves individuals and families who are disenfranchised by HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ marginalization, poverty, homelessness, and/or gender nonconformity by providing housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention services, legal services, and other supportive programs.
In the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US, nearly 100 activists met at the historic Baton Show Lounge to address the dire need for housing for Chicagoans living with AIDS. On September 9, 1985, Chicago House was incorporated in Illinois as a not-for-profit with the goal of providing housing for those with AIDS.
During the 1980s, Chicago House emerged as an organization providing a compassionate response to a fearful disease. We built our infrastructure as we established several facilities to meet the growing and ever-evolving needs of our clients. Our first residence, opened in February 1986 in Uptown, accommodated eight individuals in private bedrooms with shared cooking, dining, bathing, and living areas.
We opened two more residences in 1987 and, responding to demand, a 24-hour care program and hospice in 1988 for clients in need of additional support. In 1992, Chicago House formed the Family Support Program, becoming the first provider of housing and related services to HIV-affected families.
In 2004, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited Chicago House to learn more about our programs and the needs of our clients. The residents he met with expressed their desire to return to work, but explained the major obstacles that they faced. After listening to their concerns and the efforts of the agency, Senator Durbin helped facilitate a start-up grant to support the initial development and implementation of an HIV employment service system, which became our Employment Services Program. The program launched in the fall of 2005 with much support from leaders in the HIV and workforce development community and, since its inception, has served nearly 1,000 participants.
In 2006, Chicago House began its Scattered-Site Housing Program, which provides rental assistance and support services to clients. Initially offering 18 apartment units connecting people to housing and employment services, the Scattered-Site Housing Program now manages about 250 units each year.
2013 was another momentous year for Chicago House as we officially launched the TransLife Center, responding to the great need for culturally-competent, expert social services specifically for transgender individuals. In the same facility that we once used as a hospice in the early years of the HIV epidemic, we now deliver housing, employment, linkage-to-medical care, case management, and legal services. With community partners, we are currently leading a 5-year Special Project of National Significance funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration to study the link between HIV and retention in care in transgender women of color.
Learn more about Chicago House by visiting us on the web at www.chicagohouse.org.