When Bettendorf Place opens in September, it will be one of the only permanent housing facilities for HIV/AIDS patients on Chicago's South Side.
Alexian Brothers, a Catholic religious order that focuses on health care, is providing 23 studio apartments for low-income residents in the South Chicago neighborhood. The building is a former convent at St. Mary Magdalene Parish.
Michelle Wetzel is CEO of the AIDS ministry, which has two other facilities in the region: one on Chicago’s North Side, the other in a northern suburb. Wetzel said it was fitting to expand south.
“We felt it was important to open a facility in the community that had the need so that people could stay in their own communities, near their families, near their connections, near their faith communities,” Wetzel said.
The facility, located at 8425 S. Saginaw Ave., will have a computer center and offer GED classes.
“We looked at the demographics of where the HIV population is most populated in the city, and this is one of the neighborhoods that’s most impacted,” Wetzel said.
Thirty years ago, AIDS housing was hospice care. Today, people with HIV/AIDS are living longer and can live on their own. Wetzel said estimates show that 50 percent of people who are HIV positive will need housing assistance at some point.
Earlier this year, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago released a report stressing the HIV/AIDS housing crisis. The March study said 11,624 housing units are needed in the metro area but there are only 1,367 available units.