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Joliet veterans apartments designed to support struggling families

An artist’s rendering Volunteers AmericIllinois’ proposed project develop Hope Manor Joliet veterans housing complex part former Silver Cross Hospital site

An artist’s rendering of Volunteers of America Illinois’ proposed project to develop Hope Manor Joliet, a veterans housing complex, on part of the former Silver Cross Hospital site in Joliet. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 17, 2013 6:37AM



The group behind a plan to convert the old Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet into apartments for veterans is offering a profile of the likely residents of the complex.

“We know that the fastest-growing segments of the homeless veteran population are female veterans and veterans with families,” Nancy Hughes, chief executive of Volunteers of America Illinois, said while presenting the plan at a community meeting last week. “They come home, and they’re competing for entry-level jobs to support them and their families.”

That’s who would likely live in the 72-unit Hope Manor Apartments Joliet if the complex is approved, she said.

Hughes said her group 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 city 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 Hughes’ group will make its case for why Hope Manor Apartments Joliet is a good fit for the former hospital, which moved operations to New Lenox in 2011.

Hughes last week said the group was attracted to the site because Veterans Affairs is currently rebuilding the hospital’s 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 you 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 her group 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.

The zoning board vote is simply a recommendation. The plan then goes to the full Joliet 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, Hughes’ group expects to complete the project and open it for residents in late 2014 or early 2015.



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