Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced a $15 million commitment to launch a housing program aimed at turning vacant units into housing that will help people with disabilities live independently.
The first phase of the Home First Illinois initiative will add accessibility features to 18 condominium units in Chicago, creating independent living opportunities for people and returning vacant housing units to use.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) provided financing to nonprofit lender IFF to develop the program. The state’s commitment leveraged an additional $4 million investment from Chase Bank and an additional $125,000 in operational support from The Chicago Community Trust.
Over the next three years, the Home First Illinois initiative will develop nearly 100 accessible and affordable homes, creating permanent affordable housing opportunities for an estimated 145 people with disabilities. Accessibility features can include wider doorways, bathroom handles, or a flashing light system to notify residents when someone is visiting.
In the first phase, 18 units will be rehabilitated and are anticipated to be ready for occupancy in the Chicago area in six months.
IFF, which will manage the units, will use the capital program funding to target vacant units in elevator buildings to enhance accessibility. After renovations are complete, nonprofit Access Living will provide referrals and help individuals with physical disabilities move from institutions into the newly accessible community settings.
“By increasing accessible and affordable housing opportunities for our state’s residents with disabilities, we are helping to increase their independence and improve their quality of life,” Quinn said in a statement. “Through this program and other initiatives, we are expanding choices for those who want to live in the community. This program also will help Illinois? economy by turning vacant housing into attractive, accessible units.”
The state funds come from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, which included $130 million for affordable and supportive housing.