CHANNAHON – The most recent Census reports that 66 percent of senior renters in Will County are cost-burden, meaning that they pay more than a third of their income on rent.
And in the next five years, the senior population in Channahon and Minooka is expected to grow by 21 percent.
These two statistics were relayed last week at a groundbreaking ceremony for St. Elizabeth Residences in Channahon by Illinois Housing Development Authority development officer Matt Rangel.
The numbers highlight Will County’s need for affordable senior housing. That need is being addressed with the construction of a community for low-income seniors on land purchased by Catholic Charities from the Catholic Diocese of Joliet, across the street from St. Ann Catholic Church and near Channahon Village Hall. It is being built by Affordable Housing Developers LLC, with an estimated cost of $12 million.
The complex will include a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments in four three-story buildings. Each apartment will have its own attached one-car garage. There also will be a clubhouse with an apartment that will house a live-in manager. The first building is expected to open in March.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet Executive Director Glenn Van Cura said during the Sept. 22 event that the No. 1 priority when the organization looked at needs in the county was affordable housing for seniors. He said seniors are struggling between paying for mortgages, property taxes, food, medicine and other necessities. He said the research found that seniors are experiencing foreclosures of their homes.
“Imagine working all your life, raising a family, and you want to stay in your community,” Van Cura said. “But what happens is, ‘I don’t have enough money to stay in my own community.’ Well, St. Elizabeth Residences will be the answer for many.”
To help make the community a reality, the IHDA allocated affordable housing tax credits to encourage private investment in affordable housing. Nonprofit developers of affordable housing can receive a tax credit worth half the value of the donation, Rangel said.
This program, created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2001, has been a part of the creation and preservation of more than 17,000 housing units, Rangel said.
Through its partnerships in Will County, Rangel said, IHDA has
contributed to 4,000 affordable apartments in the county.
“We hope our elected officials in Springfield recognize the continued importance of this program,” Rangel said
He also commended state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, and state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, who spoke before him. Rangel said the IHDA cannot do its work without the great support of partners locally and people in the state Legislature.
As for the community itself, a special-use permit approved by the village of Channahon specified residents in the new facility must be at least 62 years old. No younger spouses or children will be allowed. An exception will be given to caregivers who are younger than age 62 and from a physician’s instruction.
The process of how residents will be selected is outlined in the special-use permit, with the highest number of points, 25, given to Channahon residents. Twelve points will go to family of Channahon residents; six points to veterans and widows of veterans; three points to employed senior citizens; three points to seniors who have been displaced; and one point to those who can show an unmet housing need.
Applicants will be sorted by income tiers. Of the 48 rental units, five will be reserved for seniors whose annual income is 30 percent of the area’s median, or $15,960 for one person and $18,240 for two. Twenty-six apartments will be for those whose incomes are 50 percent of average, or $26,600 for one person and $30,400 for two. Seventeen units will be for those at 60 percent of the area’s median income, or $31,920 for one person and $36,480 for two.
A list will be made of applicants; then, at various times during the year, all on the list will be ranked by the point system and considered.