Over the Rainbow set to build second Matteson location
By Terrance Peacock Correspondent March 25, 2014 9:30PM
Eric Huffman, longtime executive director of Over the Rainbow, based in Evanston. The finanial model he oversees has become a template for the development of other projects for the severely disabled developed throughout the state. | File photo
Updated: April 27, 2014 6:38AM
It can be challenging for someone with a physical disability to find housing that’s both affordable and accessible, leaving some mobility impaired adults either homeless, or struggling with their quality of life.
For this reason, one organization was created to design and manage housing that will help mobility impaired adults with affordable independent living, and by the beginning of next year, will be on the road to expansion.
Over The Rainbow Association is the largest provider of housing for adults with physical disabilities in Illinois, with housing complexes in communities that include Rockford, Waukegan, Evanston, and Matteson. Over The Rainbow currently owns five housing complexes and manages two others. It has plans to construct its second complex in Matteson.
The ground breaking for the new Matteson complex will begin in early July and Over The Rainbow hopes to open the new complex in March 2015.
Eric Huffman, Over The Rainbow’s executive director, said the organization was formed to provide housing for physically impaired adults that are still able to care for themselves.
“It wouldn’t be someone with mental illness,” Huffman said. “It could be a veteran that was injured in Iraq or somebody that was injured in a car accident. It could be somebody who had cancer and as a result lost some of their mobility. These are all examples of someone who might live with us.”
Over The Rainbow, which was founded in 1974, holds 150 units in its seven locations. The new Matteson location, which will be walking distance from the Matteson location that opened in 2008, will hold another 40 units, which will make it the organizations largest building.
Because most of Over The Rainbow’s residents are confined to wheelchairs, it may be difficult for the residents to find employment, leaving them to either work from home or depend on Social Security. Over The Rainbow prides itself in providing affordable housing for its residents, and for this reason, holds its rent at 30 percent of its resident’s income.
Lisa Washington, the regional property manager for the Matteson location said the waiting list includes about 60 people. She also said it could take someone years to secure an apartment.
“What I tell someone is anywhere from 3 to 5 years because the only way that I get vacancies is when someone moves out,” Washington said.
Huffman said he would love to continue to build in Illinois, but would consider expanding outside the state. He said the need for affordable living for mobility impaired adults is high.
“If you build it, they will come,” Huffman said. “We have had no problem renting out our buildings at all.”