From Left: Staff Jimmy, Wayne, Mary and Dan outside former office on Lincoln Avenue in 1986.

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic struck the United States, many people were terrified of this unknown virus. There was little information about how the virus was transmitted, and fear permeated the United States and the world. Due to misinformation and stigma, those who were testing positive for HIV were oftentimes kicked out of their homes and abandoned by their families, friends and society as a whole. Individuals suffering from the painful effects of HIV and AIDS needed care and support.

In response, a group of almost 100 passionate activists met at the historic Baton Show Lounge in Chicago. There, they developed the mission and vision for Chicago House, and the agency became the very first of its kind in the Midwest.

Chicago House opened on September 9, 1985 and served as a hospice for those dying of AIDS. In the beginning, Chicago House housed only 8 individuals in its first residency in Edgewater. Each individual had their own private bedroom with shared common areas, and caring volunteers supported and helped them each and every day. Chicago House’s compassionate response to people living with HIV/AIDS allowed people to live out the rest of their lives surrounded those who genuinely cared.

Over the years, Chicago House continued to open more residencies and slowly grew to the agency it is today serving over 1,500 individuals per year. While Chicago House no longer operates as a hospice, the agency still works with those living with HIV/AIDS by providing case management, employment, housing, as well as many other services. Chicago House’s history truly embodies our mission, “There at the beginning. Here to meet the challenge.” We strive to help those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and our history is truly a testament to that commitment.

Please consider supporting the work of Chicago House by taking a moment to donate.