Lake Zurich village board hears concern about homeless housing plan

Lake Zurich residents and others continue to express concern over a plan to provide apartments to chronically homeless people with mental illness in an unincorporated area, this time to officials on the village board who do not have jurisdiction in the matter.

Monday night's village board meeting marked the second time in a week residents in and around Lake Zurich attended a meeting to generally voice opposition to the plan by PADS Lake County, a nonprofit homeless agency. PADS officials want to move their Safe Haven program from a building at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in North Chicago to a single-family residential neighborhood in Ela Township near Lake Zurich's north side.

PADS would lease a 14-unit structure owned by the Lake County Housing Authority at Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane. Now vacant, Midlothian Manor previously was operated by the authority as senior housing.

In the middle of public comments about Midlothian Manor, Lake Zurich officials told the crowd at Monday night's village board meeting the village doesn't have any sway over the plan in unincorporated Lake County.

"You really need to reach out to the folks making the decisions," Village Manager Jason Slowinski told the residents from Ela Township and Lake Zurich.

David Northern, the housing authority's executive director and CEO, said Tuesday the agency has its own board that decides on projects and is separate and distinct from Lake County government. Northern said the housing authority has yet to apply for a Midlothian Manor occupancy permit but intends to do so "in the coming days."

"The 14-unit Safe Haven project is subject to an administrative occupancy permit administered by the county's department of planning, building and development and does not come before the Lake County Board or its committees for action," he said.

Midlothian Manor's Safe Haven clients would rent their units from PADS by paying a portion of their income, from government assistance or a job. Safe Haven serves the chronically homeless with mental illness.

Resident services would include lessons on money management, using public transit and understanding a mental health diagnosis. The residents can't move into Midlothian Manor until Lake County grants a re-occupancy permit.

At a Jan. 12 informational meeting co-hosted by PADS and the housing authority at Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, residents spoke of the possibility of additional crime and reduced property values resulting from the Midlothian Manor plan.

Northern said the housing authority intends to have a one-year probation clause in the PADS lease as a result of suggestions from attendees at that meeting.

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