Housing for disabled may get boost from grant, other funds

Housing for disabled may get boost from grant, other funds

URBANA — People with disabilities might soon have new housing options.

The Urbana City Council will vote tonight on entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the Housing Authority of Champaign County. If approved, the HACC will apply for funding — from the Illinois Housing Development Authority — to create up to 24 units of permanent supportive housing.

Cunningham Township supervisor and HACC board member Danielle Chynoweth said the subsidized units, slated for 1606 E. Colorado Ave., would be targeted to single people from vulnerable populations who have mental or physical disabilities.

"It's walking/wheelchair distance from the Meijer, Salt and Light and commercial in that area," Chynoweth said about the proposed location. "So it's convenient."

Housing design plans, she said, are one-story cottage-style with private entrances to the units.

Chynoweth said local recipients of Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance are rent burdened, by federal standards, if they pay more than $250 a month.

"Even a tiny room in a boarding house is typically $450 and up," Chynoweth said. "I brought the grant opportunity to the HACC because we have extremely insufficient housing for people with disabilities."

There are three organizations in Champaign County that award permanent supportive housing rental vouchers, according to data from the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. They are Rosecrance, the HACC and the CCRPC.

Urbana wouldn't contribute financially to the tax-exempt housing, according to a city staff report. Instead, a combination of the grant, HACC funding and private funding would be used.

Chynoweth said she's "extremely overjoyed" that Urbana and the HACC quickly responded to the application opportunity. She said she sees it as a turning point from the rocky start of her time on the HACC board.

At the beginning of this year, Chairman Larry Lewis published a letter on behalf of the HACC board saying Chynoweth shouldn't have been appointed by Mayor Diane Marlin. He argued that she had a conflict of interest that kept the authority from receiving property tax exemption for a low-income housing tax-credit project.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development later ruled that a conflict of interest did not exist.

"We came together so well and so quickly," Chynoweth said about how city government and Cunningham Township worked on the grant application.

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