About Us


During an era when many institutions were questioning their positions on HIV/AIDS, the Alexian Brothers forged ahead to promote care instead of debate. In the early days of AIDS, it wasn’t popular for many religious institutions to associate themselves with the issues related to, and populations affected by the disease. Yet, in this unsympathetic environment, the Alexian Brothers made a decision to create an entire program of care for those suffering and in need.

For seven centuries the Alexian Brothers have served the disadvantaged of society. They’ve cared for the victims of plague-torn Europe , sent brothers to battlefield hospitals in time of war, and faced cholera in Chicago . Now, with the establishment of two transitional housing communities, the Alexian Brothers have accepted one of the century’s greatest challenges. . . living with AIDS.

Guided by the Alexian Brothers vision of providing care, compassion and dignity for the marginated person, the mission of Bonaventure House in Chicago and its affiliate, The Harbor in Lake County is to enhance the quality of life for people with HIV/AIDS within a supportive community.

When Bonaventure House opened its doors in March of 1989, the facility was neither hospital nor hospice. It was a home for people with AIDS and a resource center that provided counseling and an array of supportive services. Since then, Bonaventure House has been recognized by the Illinois Governor’s Office and by Oprah Winfrey for the quality, and comprehensive nature, of its programs.


The Board of Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House & The Harbor is a group of Trustees whose primary responsibility is to assist and advise the CEO and agency in strategic organizational planning, and to serve as front-line ambassadors for the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry.

Both roles are critical to the organization’s success; however, the ambassadorial role is especially key as it relates to fund development, major gift cultivation, and community/church/government/corporate/foundation relations.

In brief, the Board exists for the sustenance of the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry’s mission. Because of this, Board members are expected to help sustain the mission through work, wisdom and wealth.

To see a list of of our Trustees click here

If you are interested in serving on the Board please contact John Dresang at 773.377.9731 or info@bonaventurehouse.org.

The Need

Today, more and more people are living with HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1,200,000 men and women are living with the disease in the United States . Half of them will need housing assistance during their lifetimes.

Lack of affordable housing is a critical problem for a growing number of people with HIV/AIDS. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that up to 30% of the homeless population is HIV positive and that 36% of people living with HIV/AIDS have reported being homeless at some point since diagnosis.

Housing will make a difference between life and death for many persons living with HIV/AIDS. Stable housing is the first step to better health and improved quality of life. Once residents are admitted to Bonaventure House & The Harbor’s Transitional Living Program they are guided from a place of surviving to a place of thriving.


Because the overall well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS is tied to three basics needs –– proper nutrition, consistent healthcare, and stable housing –– the first step of Bonaventure’s Transitional Living Program addresses these basics for each resident. However, once the basics have been addressed, the Transitional Living Program helps residents expand their focus beyond mere survival and begin addressing other issues to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

While it’s good news that medical advances make it possible for people with HIV/AIDS to shift their focus from death to dealing with life’s daily challenges, it’s unfortunate that those daily challenges frequently involve homelessness, poverty, mental illness, and chemical dependency. 70% of the residents have a history of chemical dependency. Moreover, 100% were homeless and 96% have incomes below the Federal poverty level. 71% are non-Caucasian.

Although the agency was founded by an order of Catholic Brothers, applicants from all faith backgrounds, or with no religious orientation, are welcome. In fact, our Spiritual Care Program is ecumenical and strives to honor and respect a wide variety of faith traditions and journeys.

The agency does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or disability.

Admissions Criteria

In addition to having a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS, applicants for the Bonaventure House program must be:

  • Homeless or at-risk for homelessness
  • Under the care of a primary care physician, with a negative TB skin test or chest X-ray
  • Working on substance abuse issues, if in recovery (substantiated clean time and committed to remaining alcohol and drug free); and, if indicated, working on mental health issues
  • Willing to abide by policies stipulated in the resident handbook, including the tier system, and willing to contribute a social service fee of 30% of income and/or benefits (Inability to pay is not a barrier to acceptance into the program)
  • Capable of living in a diverse, transitional, congregate community setting
  • Interested in, and capable of, returning to independent living in the community within two years