Under overcast skies in the city's South Chicago neighborhood, service providers with the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry cut the ribbon on a new permanent housing facility for people with HIV/AIDS and disabilities on Aug. 4.
Bettendorf Place, the third of the Alexian Brothers HIV housing facilities, brings the ministry's presence to the South Side for the first time. With 23 studio apartments and a green energy design, the new building also marks an extension in services for the ministry from transitional to permanent housing.
"This facility has been built to provide help to people with disabilities, whatever that disability may be," said Brother Dan McCormick, president of the ministry. "It is the outcast who is the source of healing."
The $4.8 million project has been more than five years in the making. Building plans were initially postponed in poor economic times, but a 2009 grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act revived the project.
The ministry began its HIV/AIDS work in Chicago in 1989. Since, it has opened the Bonaventure House in Lakeview and The Harbor in Waukegan, IL. Bettendorf Place bears named after the late Brother Felix Bettendorf, who helped found the AIDS ministry.
"When the Brothers opened Bonaventure House in 1989, we were essentially a hospice," said ministry CEO Michelle Wetzel. The expansion of the ministry's services into permanent housing represents a shift in the pandemic as people are now living longer.
The new Bettendorf Place will house a variety of services for clients including case management, recovery support, spiritual care and occupational therapy.
The ministry celebrated the new facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the building and refreshments.