Co-presidents of a task force seeking housing in the suburbs for people with mental illness and other disabilities made their case to the Prospect Heights City Council this week.
Although the group has had preliminary talks about a specific piece of property in the city, it is not committed to any site, said Hugh Brady, co-president of The North/Northwest Suburban Task Force On Supportive Housing for Individuals With Mental Illness.
Mayor Nick Helmer said he suggested the 50,000-square-foot outlot at Prospect Crossing Shopping Center on Rand Road, south of Thomas Street, to Arlen Gould, the task force's other co-president. He thinks nearby amenities, including the new Ultra Foods store, restaurants and the Target in Arlington Heights, would be good for residents. He invited Gould to talk to the council Monday night.
Prospect Crossing houses the H.O.M.E. Bar as well as the Ultra, and Alderman Patrick Ludvigsen of Ward 4 expressed concern about the parking those two businesses could gobble up.
"Have you looked at that property since Ultra opened?" Ludvigsen said. "Things have changed there."
Helmer said he thinks there is enough room for parking for apartments where only a quarter of the residents have cars but knows the owner of that land would rather lease it.
Aldermen suggested a few other sites in the city they thought might be more suitable.
The task force and partners have opened Myers Place in Mount Prospect and hope to open PhilHaven in Wheeling in 2015. The latter project is moving forward after developers and the village reached a settlement to a lawsuit filed after Wheeling trustees initially rejected the PhilHaven plan.
The same group has proposed supportive housing in Arlington Heights and Palatine, but both projects were rejected by officials in those villages.
"The task force would love to see apartments like (Myers Place) in every municipality in the North and Northwest suburbs," Brady said. "We have had some discussions in a couple other towns but haven't done anything formal."
Gould told the council that people with mental illness and other disabilities can be "working, contributing members of society" when supportive housing is available. He also invited Prospect Heights officials to tour Myers Place "as nice a development as anything in Arlington Heights, I believe. When you see it, it will make a lot more sense to you."
Myers Place has 39 apartments, and if funding can be obtained Philhaven will have 50, a fraction of the 3,000 that are needed in the Northwest suburbs, said Mitchell Bruski, chief executive officer of Kenneth Young Center, a partner in the task force's projects.
Federal laws have changed, Bruski added, noting that supportive housing must be open to people with various disabilities and not just mental illness.