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SUHI Project:Helping Chicago’s Westside Adults Breathe and Thrive: A Healthy Homes Approach to Improving Respiratory Health (current phase)


Helping Chicago’s Westside Adults Breathe and Thrive: A Healthy Homes Approach to Improving Respiratory Health (current phase)


One in twelve people nationally are living with asthma.  Of these 25 million people, nearly 73% are adults. The prevalence of current asthma is rising with studies documenting a disproportionate increase in mortality and hospitalization rates among urban residents, including those living in federally-assisted housing.  Studies consistently show asthma prevalence and associated morbidity to be highest among non-Hispanic Black (NHB) people and those living below the federal poverty level. Additionally, a recent American Lung Association report showed the age-adjusted mortality rate due to asthma among NHB persons was three times greater than for non-Hispanic White persons (NHW). 

Chicago is one of the cities hardest hit by the surging asthma epidemic. Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH), located in the heart of Chicago’s poverty-stricken, primarily NHB, Westside sees disproportionately high numbers of adults with asthma. In Fiscal Year 2012, there were 772 visits to MSH’s Emergency Department (ED) and 276 hospitalizations of adults for asthma.

Helping Chicago’s Westside Adults Breathe and Thrive (HCWABT) is the first asthma initiative at the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI) to focus solely on adults. It is also among the first in the nation to assess the impact of a Community Health Worker (CHW) home-based intervention model on improving asthma outcomes.   Funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it expands upon the recently completed HUD-funded project entitled Helping Children Breathe and Thrive in Chicago’s Public Housing (HCBT), which served both children and adults with asthma living in Chicago’s Westside public housing developments and realized significant improvements in asthma management.  For additional information on HCBT click here.  HCWABT is a partnership between Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO), MSH, Sinai Medical Group and SUHI, and aims to improve overall asthma management among adults living on Chicago’s Westside.


Project Plan:

Helping Chicago’s Westside Adults Breathe and Thrive (HCWABT) translates the successful pediatric asthma CHW healthy homes model to adults with poorly controlled asthma living in six different Community Areas (CA) on the Westside: North Lawndale, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Near West Side and Austin.  Within these CAs, HCWABT targets several CHA developments and senior buildings, as well as Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) residents. 

CHWs are hired from the CAs served by the project and trained to provide comprehensive education on asthma and how it can be better managed.  The CHWs conduct five to six home visits over the course of a year with each adult participant enrolled in the program.  A large component of the home visits includes a thorough assessment of the home environment for possible asthma triggers.  In the event that an asthma-related housing issue is identified in the home, program staff works with CHA management companies, resident landlords and/or MTO in order to resolve the issue.  CHWs also assist program participants with referrals as needed for other issues, such as health insurance enrollment or smoking cessation.  Quarterly community education sessions are provided by the program and are open to all community members interested in attending.  Topics include: Green Cleaning and Integrated Pest Management, Asthma and COPD, Smoking Cessation, and Nutrition, among others.  CHWs also assist program participants in both finding and building a relationship with a Primary Care Physician and overall navigation of the health care system.

HCWABT is a three year project that began in November 2013. Sinai Asthma Program staff is excited to be a pioneer program in testing the CHW model with adults, and are confident that the program will have a positive impact on the overall well-being of adults with asthma living on Chicago’s Westside. HCWABT is SUHI’s seventh asthma program, and when completed, SUHI will have been intervening to improve asthma management in some of Chicago’s most vulnerable communities for 15 years. 

Project Partners

  • Chicago Housing Authority
  • Metropolitan Tenants Organization
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Sinai Medical Group

Project Updates:

On September 11, 2015, HCWABT received a prestigious award for Quality Excellence Achievement from the Illinois Hospital Association Instititue for Innovations in Care and Quality; this was one of only five awarded out of nearly 100 submissions.