Urbana council gives initial OK to plan to create housing for disabled

Urbana council gives initial OK to plan to create housing for disabled

URBANA — The city council gave initial approval Monday to an effort that could create new housing for disabled people.

The Housing Authority of Champaign County wants to apply for a grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority to establish 24 units of permanent supportive housing for people with mental and physical disabilities.

Housing authority board member Danielle Chynoweth said the plan is to create a one-story, cottage-style property with private entrances at 1606 E. Colorado Ave. It would be affordable, subsidized housing.

In other business, the council approved a new contract with the police department that runs until July 2020. Officers will receive a 2 percent pay increase each year, with sergeants getting an additional $1,000 on top of that each year.

The council also reviewed a proposed budget for Cunningham Township's upcoming fiscal year. It focuses on services to alleviate Urbana poverty and homelessness.

In a memo about the budget, Chynoweth, who also serves as Cunningham Township supervisor, said 350 Urbana residents went to court last year for eviction. Champaign County's poverty rate sits at 20.5 percent — the 10th worst in the state, according to a United Way of Champaign County community report.

"650 school-aged children were registered as homeless in 2015-16," Chynoweth said in her memo. "Over the past five years, child homelessness in Champaign County has increased an estimated 132 percent."

In addition, Chynoweth said local wages aren't keeping up with rent and the cost of living. Her proposed budget includes $36,000 in rental assistance and eviction prevention, $175,000 for social-service agencies and $50,000 for a matching grant to provide shelter for women and women with children.

The township board is set to vote on the budget next month.