HUMBOLDT PARK — A local home health organization is looking to open a $7 million wellness and workforce development center in the heart of Humboldt Park to combat health disparities in the neighborhood.
ASI Home Care, an organization currently headquartered on the edge of Humboldt Park and West Town at 700 N. Sacramento Blvd., hopes to buy land from Humboldt Park Health to build the 16,000-square-foot facility, ASI Home Care CEO Marta Cerda said.
Under the plan, the facility would house workforce development and training programs aimed at helping nearby residents secure jobs in home health, along with other high-demand industries, like information technology and manufacturing. The organization plans to partner with local colleges and Latino-led providers on the programs, Cerda said.
The building would also house ASI Home Care’s administrative offices, essentially serving as the organization’s new headquarters, as well as a memory care center for patients suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s, she said.
Founded in 1975, ASI Home Care provides bilingual home health to post-acute patients, older people and people with disabilities, according to its website. Through the organization, patients receive assistance from nurses and other health professionals from home. The demand for such care has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a major reason the project is gaining momentum, Cerda said.
But even before the pandemic, Humboldt Park was in need of a wellness center, Cerda said. Neighborhood residents disproportionately struggle from poor health outcomes like diabetes and obesity, according to a Sinai Urban Health Institute survey. Many also suffer from food insecurity, the survey found.
With the new facility, ASI hopes to improve health outcomes among residents, boost employment and bolster the growing home health industry at the same time, Cerda said. The facility will enable ASI to train about 15,000 home health professionals annually, she said. The organization currently employs 350 people.
“Employment is a key determinant of health, so it’s so important we have [job training] within our facility,” Cerda said.
ASI Home Care is in the process of securing funding to make the project a reality, Cerda said. The project — estimated to cost at least $7 million — requires a patchwork of city, state and federal funding, along with private dollars and new market tax credits, she said.
The organization is in talks with Humboldt Park Health officials to buy land on the hospital’s campus, but the deal hasn’t been finalized yet, Cerda said.
Cerda, who served as Humboldt Park Health’s board chairman 2003-2012, declined to provide a specific address, citing pending negotiations. But should everything fall into place, the organization hopes to start construction by the fall and open the building in 2023, she said.
Humboldt Park Health officials didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
If realized, the project would strengthen ASI Home Care’s years-long partnership with Humboldt Park Health, Cerda said. The two organizations have worked in tandem to treat patients in Humboldt Park for years, including during the pandemic, she said.
Cerda said the facility will be a “transformational” project in Humboldt Park.
“This new building is an expansion of our commitment to improving access to quality health care, care for the elderly and employment opportunities. It’s an expansion of what has been at the core of ASI since 1975,” she said.
So far, the project has the support of several local elected officials and organizations, including the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a good project because there’s been all this talk about gentrification. This is actually going to create jobs in the area,” chamber President Jaime di Paulo said. “Good projects don’t mean gentrification. It has to be a good responsible project that really values the culture of the community … that’s what they’re all about.”
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