Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Cannon Place in Danville, Ill., is meeting a critical need—affordable housing for veterans.

Mercy Housing Lakefront's 65-unit Cannon Place is providing affordable housing for veterans on a VA campus in Danville, Ill.
Roland Lim Photography Mercy Housing Lakefront's 65-unit Cannon Place is providing affordable housing for veterans on a VA campus in Danville, Ill.

The 65-unit development, which was completed a year ago, is located on the campus of the VA Illiana Health Care System, providing close access to services and medical care as well as education opportunities at the adjacent Danville Area Community College.

Mercy Housing Lakefront competed in an RFP under Veteran Affairs’ Building Utilization Review and Repurposing initiative for approximately 20 acres of land on the campus under a 75-year land lease for $1 per year.

“This was an initiative started by Veterans Affairs (VA) looking at taking advantage of surplus property and putting it into productive use in helping the caseload of people they see annually,” says Mark Angelini, president of nonprofit Mercy Housing Lakefront. “The VA is really trying to figure out how to be a more active agent in taking care of the well-being of veterans. Collectively, it’s a great partnership to accomplish both of our missions.”

Cannon Place serves single veterans as well as veterans with families, including households that are homeless or at risk of homelessness, disabled, or seniors.

“We have 65 units, and I’m sure we could multiply that by 10 and probably still have a need to do more,” says Angelini. “There are a lot of challenges affecting not only Vietnam-era veterans but more recent veterans from the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The VA provides caseworkers in the building, which is supplemented by additional case coordination by Mercy Housing Lakefront and its service provider Crosspoint Human Services.

The LEED Silver development includes computer and training rooms, a fitness center, supportive services offices, a secured-entry system, and a patio area with grills, picnic tables, and a gazebo.

“There is a dynamic supportive community growing within those four walls,” adds Angelini. “The goal is to get them back to living healthy, independent, and more prosperous lives.”

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-VA Supportive Housing vouchers administered by the Danville Housing Authority provide ongoing rental assistance for all of the units, so residents only pay 30% of their income toward rent.

The capital stack for the $17.5 million development included eight permanent sources of financing, relying primarily on 9% low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), with the equity provided by National Equity Fund. IHDA also provided a long-term loan and state donation tax credits that were sold to U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. Additional financing included an Affordable Housing Program grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago through member First Midwest Bank as well as grants from Local Initiatives Support Corp., the Home Depot Foundation, and the VA.