Lake County residents oppose placing homeless people at manor

About 200 spectators attended the start of a hearing in Lake Zurich High School's library Tuesday before a panel that'll decide whether homeless people with mental illness may move into a vacant building in a residential neighborhood in unincorporated Ela Township.

The Lake County zoning board of appeals must decide whether Midlothian Manor should be classified as a government use for the plan. Midlothian Manor is a former senior facility owned by the Lake County Housing Authority.

Officials announced the hearing will continue at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Lake County's central permit facility, 500 W. Winchester Road in Libertyville.

PADS Lake County, a homeless agency, wants to move clients into the structure on Lake Zurich's northern border.

Under the proposal, PADS would move its Safe Haven program from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in North Chicago to Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane in Ela Township. Safe Haven serves the chronically homeless with mental illness.

The housing authority received an occupancy permit for government use through a county administrative process early this year. Residents for an Engaged Community, an opposition group, filed an objection to the permit that would allow PADS to use Midlothian Manor — a move that triggered Tuesday's zoning board of appeals hearing.

At the hearing, attorney Daniel Shapiro, who represents Residents for an Engaged Community, said the county erred by allowing an unprecedented government use for Midlothian Manor in the residential neighborhood. He also said having PADS operate in Midlothian Manor would not fit into Lake County's long-range plan.

“What has the county envisioned?” Shapiro said. “What is its plan?”

During public comment time, opponents reiterated concerns about the effect the proposal could have on the neighborhood, including the potential for declining property values and crime.

Proponents said Midlothian Manor would provide stable, affordable housing for the PADS clients.

Resident Jennifer Mueller, who lives across from Midlothian Manor, said she purchased what she had believed was her “dream home.”

She said that would change if PADS clients live at Midlothian Manor.

“I never would have located my family across the street from a potential threat to my children, my animals or my property,” Mueller said.

But Marcus Cole of Prairie State Legal Services said the proposal would be for the health and well-being of those who would live at Midlothian Manor.

“Housing is about our Lake County community neighbors having a stable home so that they are in a better position to achieve their goals,” Cole said.

PADS would screen the 14 residents before they move into Midlothian Manor. Employees would be present 24 hours a day, with resources available to the residents such as a licensed clinical social worker and an advanced practice nurse.

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