Veterans apartments designed to support struggling families
By Bob Okon email@example.com January 15, 2013 5:24PM
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:32AM
Volunteers of America Illinois last week offered a profile of the likely residents of the veterans apartment complex proposed for Joliet.
“We know that the fastest-growing segments of the homeless veteran population are female veterans and veterans with families,” Nancy Hughes, chief executive of VOA Illinois, said while presenting the plan at a community meeting. “They come home, and they’re competing for entry-level jobs to support them and their families.”
That’s who’s likely to be living in the 72-unit Hope Manor Apartments Joliet if it is approved, she said.
Hughes said VOA has started building veterans housing for low-income mothers and families because of the many challenges they face after leaving the military.
In the future, she said, the nonprofit group may consider senior housing for veterans at the Joliet site.
The plan goes Thursday to the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals, which will consider a special-use permit during its meeting at 1:30 p.m. in City Hall. The Plan Commission is scheduled to consider a subdivision plan for the 3.2-acre site at 4 p.m. Thursday.
It’s the zoning board meeting where VOA Illinois will make its case for why Hope Manor Apartments Joliet is a good fit for the site, which is on the vacated Joliet campus of Silver Cross Hospital.
Hughes last week said VOA Illinois was attracted to the site because Veterans Affairs is currently rebuilding the old emergency center into a veterans’ megaclinic.
“This is a beautiful thing,” local businessman Val Rand told Hughes at the meeting. But, he added, “I’m concerned that facility won’t be large enough. What are your plans for the future?”
Hughes said the need for affordable housing among veterans will grow as they continue to return from Afghanistan and Iraq.
But, she said, “You get into much more than 100 or so (units) in one location, and that bumps against our ability to make sure we’re able to provide a really quality living experience.”
Hughes said VOA Illinois will continue to run the facility after it is built and provide services to the veterans living there in an effort to help them get good jobs and become self-sufficient.
While Hope Manor Apartments Joliet may not get much bigger, Hughes said the group may consider housing for older veterans.
“We may look into doing senior housing for veterans who are aging,” she said.
The zoning board vote is a recommendation. Then, the plan goes to the full city council, which is scheduled to review the project at its Feb. 4. workshop meeting and vote on it at the Feb. 5 regular meeting. The council’s land use committee last week recommended approval of the plan.
If the project moves forward, VOA Illinois expects to complete the project and open it up for residents in late 2014 or early 2015.