$3M in federal funding to help AID build mental health center and affordable, disabled …


The Association for Individual Development in Elgin will receive $3 million in federal funding for its $35 million complex, The Wildwoods, which will provide affordable and developmentally disabled housing and a community mental health center.

U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, R-Schaumburg, was on hand for a Thursday ceremony at which the grant was announced at the nonprofit organization’s Bowes Road location.

AID plans to construct three buildings — one with 34 units of supportive housing, a second with 40 units of affordable housing and the third a community mental health center — on a 16-acre site at 695 S. State Street.

It will be constructed in stages, with the $3 million in federal funding being used for the community mental health center, which will be built first, Executive Director Lore Baker said.

The city of Elgin has approved preliminary plans for the project and agreed to waive fees and fast-track permits.

Groundbreaking is tentatively planned for mid-May, Baker said, and construction will take about a year and a half, she said.

Krishnamoorthi said when AID applied for federal funding, his office jumped at the chance to find money for the community mental health center because of the growing need for such services.

One in six children ages 6 to 17 are affected by mental health issues, he noted, and his own family has been impacted. One of his sons went from being outgoing child to depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“Zoom school really brought him down,” Krishnamoorthi said. “Thankfully, he sprung back to action once he could go back to school, but for a lot of kids, they are not there yet. That goes for adults too. I think COVID did a number on them.”

Eric Taylor said he knows firsthand the struggle people with mental health issues face when trying to find resources like those offered by AID.

“I learned that it’s OK to ask for help,” said Taylor, who’s been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, depression and anxiety. “I got help from a caseworker, a psychologist and counselor. All my life, I’ve wanted to do it myself, but if you reach out your hand, there is help out there.”

Baker said she is glad to see the attention, and funding, now being directed at mental health services.

“We all know it’s a rising need that hasn’t been met — even when it was smaller — and it has exponentially grown from COVID. The more interest and input we can get, the better,” she said.

Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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April 13, 2023 at 05:18PM

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