City officials announced Wednesday that they have awarded $24 million to the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to serve as the lead organization for a new initiative to promote overall health and wellness dubbed the Community Health Response Corps.
“The City’s Community Health Response Corps is a necessary tool to support our most vulnerable residents who are still experiencing the social, economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
The corps will assemble a team of community health outreach workers who will focus their efforts on hard-hit communities and leverage the expertise and infrastructure the city, Chicago Department of Public Health and community partners developed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This collaboration between the City, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Chicago Cook Workforce represents our commitment to taking care of our communities, and will provide expanded access to much-needed resources to ensure each of our residents can live healthy lives,” Lightfoot said.
The Workforce Partnership, which has led the city’s Contact Tracing Corps since 2020, will support community-based organizations to hire and supervise 150 Response Corps members, according to city officials.
“The Partnership’s experience operating the Contact Tracing Corps – ensuring Corps members lived and worked in communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and bringing critical public health services to people who needed them most – informed our proposal and will continue in our work going forward,” said Patrick Combs, interim CEO of the Workforce Partnership, in a statement.
This new team will allow the health department “to transition from emergency response to community health response, particularly in addressing the burden of chronic diseases and root causes that contribute to Chicago’s racial life expectancy gap,” which has reached 10 years between Black and White Chicagoans, according to city officials.
In addition to helping connect residents with resources, the corps will continue its efforts to prevent “serious outcomes of COVID-19,” including vaccination outreach, according to officials.
The program is part of the city’s $1.2 billion Chicago Recovery Plan to support local recovery from the social, economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.