ST. JOSEPH — Affordable elderly housing may be coming to St. Joseph.
At a meeting with the village board this week, Ed Bland of the Champaign County Housing Authority said the agency has located land for sale within St. Joseph that would allow 10 housing units to be built.
Previously, the board expressed concern that there was no land for sale within the village that would work for such a project.
The land is located off U.S. 150, between Crestwood and Eighth Street. Currently, an empty home and a barn sit on the land.
Bland said St. Joseph has 815 elderly households, defined as age 55 or older. Thirty-four percent of those would be eligible for this form of housing, he said.
Eligibility requirements include an annual household income of less than $40,000. Rent is based upon household income.
Bland said there is a waiting list for senior housing already located in St. Joseph.
"The need is there," he said.
The project would cost $1.6 million. Units would be 900 square feet each with one bedroom, a laundry room and a den. Each unit would have individual garages that would enter off Crestwood and Eighth.
Bland said two people may live in the units but no children or grandchildren are allowed.
Village residents expressed concern this week that out-of-towners may want to live in the housing units.
Bland says that's unlikely.
"Seniors want to stay in the town they already live in," he said.
Bland said senior citizens from Champaign routinely tell him they do not want to move to Rantoul — and vice versa.
"The families that live there will be families you already know," he said.
Those applying to live in the units must undergo a criminal background check and will be asked for landlord references, Bland said.
The housing authority routinely checks properties, including for housekeeping and to make sure there are no additional roommates, he said.
"We want our housing units to be good neighbors," Bland said. "With our seniors, we rarely have problems. Seniors take pride in where they live."
The housing authority will have to go before the St. Joseph Planning Commission and the St. Joseph Zoning Board of Appeals before proceeding. The zoning board would then make a recommendation to the village board about the project.
Mayor B.J. Hackler said the land is zoned R-1, meaning it's a neighborhood of single-family homes. It would have to be rezoned for the project to go through.
Hackler also said the neighbors would be notified before the zoning board makes a recommendation to the village.
Nora Maberry-Daniels is editor of The Leader, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit leaderlandnews.com.