New Housing Opportunities for Chicago’s Disabled

December 19, 2011

Illinois is getting $15 million to rehab vacant Chicago condos into homes where residents with physical disabilities can live independently.

This new public-private Home First Illinois initiative is getting the funds from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.

Star of IllinoisFor the first phase of the project, 18 condos in the Chicago area will be rehabbed. Nonprofit lender IFF, which received financing for the program from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, will use the funds to target already vacant units in buildings with elevators.

After renovations are completed and accessibility features are added — including wider doors, bathroom handles and flashing light systems to notify residents when someone is visiting — not-for-profit Access Living will help residents with physical disabilities move from institutions into the new community setting.

This project is a double win-win: It will create jobs, provide new living opportunities for Illinois’ physically disabled, save the state money and fill up vacant Chicago real estate.

“By increasing accessible and affordable housing opportunities for our state’s residents with disabilities, we are helping to increase their independence and improve their quality of life,” Governor Quinn said. “Through this program and other initiatives, we are expanding choices for those who want to live in the community.

“This program also will help Illinois’ economy by turning vacant housing into attractive, accessible units.”

Over the next three years, the Home First Illinois initiative will develop close to 100 accessible homes to create permanent, affordable housing opportunities for an estimated 145 residents with physical disabilities.

The project, which will create 21 construction jobs, is also getting $4 million from Chase Bank and an additional $125,000 in operational support from The Chicago Community Trust.

“This is private/public partnership at its best,” said Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living. “The purchase of distressed properties will help communities grow stronger, and people with disabilities in institutions will find a place to live in the community.”

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