$25 million project would bring more affordable housing to Elgin area

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A pending Elgin development may soon help area houseless people or residents with disabilities seeking affordable housing.

The Association for Individual Development (AID) introduced plans for a $25 million redevelopment of the property at 695 S. State Street that it’s operated for more than 40 years. The non-profit organization specializes in providing mental health and developmental disability services. The 16-acre property currently has a single one-story building. The plan would demolish that building and subdivide the property into five lots.

Four of those five lots would be developed under the plan. The project’s first phase would create a two-story supportive housing building called Wildwood Commons. It would contain 24 apartments. Phase two would build a three-story supportive housing building called Wildwood Trace with 50 additional apartments. The first two phases will begin at the same time.

Phase three would replace the existing office building with a two-story, 19,500-square-foot community resource center for mental health and social services.

The fourth lot would serve as a water detention pond. And the fifth lot would remain undeveloped for now.

The 74 total apartments would be a mix of one and two-bedroom units. They would range in size from 637 square feet to 918 square feet. Both residential buildings will have community rooms, fitness centers, laundry facilities and workspace for case management workers. There will also be a non-public pharmacy.

None of the residents of the buildings will be required to use the on-site social services, but they will be made available to any resident who wants to access the services. Because AID is not providing assistance with daily living for all residents the facilities will not be licensed by the state.

The rents will be set at levels affordable for households earning 30% of the area’s median income. For a single person, that income is $21,900 per year. For a family of four, that income is $31,260.

The city approved a similar supportive, affordable housing complex at 1212 Larkin Ave. a few years ago. All 48 affordable units are currently occupied. There is a waiting list with more than 200 people waiting for openings at the facility.

Lore Baker, the president and CEO of AID, said less than 1% of the area’s affordable housing stock is vacant. She said AID’s project would be bigger, given the need, if it wasn’t for a lack of funding. The plan is financed with money from the state, some of which became available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have tried for over 40 years to do more with this property,” Baker said. “It’s just that it’s coming together at this time.”

James Gould, the vice chair of the board of trustees for AID, urged the city to approve the project on moral grounds.

“We are all aware of the need for affordable housing, but beyond affordable housing is the subset of people needing housing that have developmental disabilities or substance abuse challenges or a mental health diagnoses,” Gould said. “It’s that subset that this facility and this development will meet.”

The commission put forward the plan with a 5-0 recommendation for approval to the city council. The city council must approve the project before construction can begin.

The only pushback to the initiative came from the South West Area Neighbors community group. Sue Webb, a group representative, asked AID to present the project to SWAN and address concerns about potential increased traffic along State Street (Route 31) and the impact on future plans to widen Rt. 31. Baker said she would meet with the group.

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July 14, 2022 at 02:40PM

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