Mt. Prospect supportive housing facility draws 150 hopeful applicants
There was a time when leaving the comfort of home -- even to retrieve empty garbage bins -- proved too overwhelming for Brian Geyer.
The former Streamwood resident sometimes risked getting a citation from the village, unable to confront his paralyzing fear.
Geyer, who's diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, mild autism and social anxiety, has made significant strides through treatment and support services. Still, he worries about where he'll go when his elderly mother dies or is unable to live independently.
"I'll have nowhere to live," said the 45-year-old Geyer, who stays with his mother near Niles. "It's a huge source of anxiety for me."
Geyer is hopeful he won't face that uncertainty for much longer.
He's one of about 150 people who on Friday came to the Kenneth Young Center in Elk Grove Village to turn in an application for one of 39 highly coveted apartments in Myers Place, a $13.2 million permanent supportive housing facility in Mount Prospect.
Located at Dempster Street and Busse Road, the four-story building will have 21 one-bedroom and 18 studio furnished -- and affordable -- apartments for individuals who are disabled, mentally ill or facing homelessness.
The facility, which opens in June, also will feature a state-funded supportive services program for residents, retail space at street level and environmental construction to meet LEED standards.
"There's nothing like this in the Northwest suburbs," said Kenneth Young Center CEO Mitch Bruski. "We could build a facility with 2,000 units and we'd fill every one of them. That's how much demand there is."
People were so eager to get in their applications that several got in line Thursday night. Bruski, who opened the Kenneth Young Center at 5 a.m. Friday to get those waiting out of the cold, said they shared blankets, food and took turns warming up in cars.
"Everyone's story is just incredible," Bruski said. "I spoke with a veteran who has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and someone in a suburban housing project that's filled with criminals. Their determination was inspiring."
Another person applying for a spot at Myers Place was Mark Mester, who has dealt with severe social phobia and depression for most of his life.
The 47-year-old currently lives with a roommate at Kenneth Young Center's transitional housing in Elk Grove Village, a program that provides individuals with supervision as they develop independent living skills. Before that, he stayed with different relatives.
Mester said he wants to live at Myers Place because of its affordability -- residents pay 30 percent of whatever income or government assistance they receive -- and because of the dignity that living independently brings.
"I went most of my adult life without a job," said Mester, who's worked the past decade as a file clerk. "I was afraid to apply, afraid to even get out of bed. But I'm doing much better, and I think I've got a good shot at this."
The project is a partnership between Kenneth Young Center and Daveri Development Group.
The selection process involves an application and an interview to determine potential residents are "disabled enough to need services, but able enough to live in the community," Bruski said.
The Housing Authority of Cook County will check that a person is in fact poor and disabled, and a property manager will perform credit and background checks.
Bruski predicts Myers Place will be a "rainbow of people with different ethnic origins and diagnostic issues."
Bruski credited the village of Mount Prospect for getting on board with the project, which is three years in the making. Other developments in Arlington Heights and Wheeling faced resistance from both officials and neighbors. He believes a big difference in Myers Place's approval is that most nearby housing is occupied by renters, not owners.
He hopes the proposed Catherine Alice Gardens apartments in Palatine also will be well-received.
"Right now, people have to go to the city for (permanent supportive housing)," Bruski said. "They should be able to live in the communities where they grew up. They're already there; they're just living in isolation."