By BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org
JOLIET -- More than 100 residents showed up in opposition to a plan for a Cornerstone Services apartment building.
The eight-unit building would be built on Thomas Hickey Avenue and provide apartments for people with mental illnesses.
But residents who spoke at the informational meeting Wednesday night expressed worries about the people who would move into the neighborhood and the construction of an apartment building near their single-family homes.
"You're asking us to buy into an unknown, and we live right in that community," resident Vicky Clink said. "I don't want to live with an unknown."
The Joliet City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Cornerstone's request for a special use permit, which is needed to build the apartments just east of Essington Road and on the edge of the Warwick subdivision.
The council tabled a vote on the permit earlier this month in order to have the informational meeting so Cornerstone could explain its plans.
Representatives from Cornerstone, a Joliet-based social services agency, tried to assure neighbors that they had a solid track record of providing similar housing and that only people with mild cases of mental illness would live in the building.
"We have no intention whatsoever of bringing people onto this site who are dangerous, who have a criminal background," said Deanna Watson, director of behavioral health for Cornerstone. "Our screening process is very thorough."
Watson said the people who would live in the apartments already live and work in the community.
"They go to church. They go to Jewel. They go to the same eye doctors you do," she said.
But resident after resident raised questions about Cornerstone's ability to monitor the apartments and ensure the tenants would not pose a threat to surrounding families.
"This is a social experiment in our neighborhood," one resident declared.
"There is a legitimate safety concern because you're not going to be there 24 hours a day," said another.
"We want a nice safe environment for our children to grow up in," one other residents said.
Fifty-two people spoke against the plan. When someone asked if anyone in the group of more than 100 residents at the meeting supported the apartments, no one raised a hand.
The outpouring of opposition was unlike anything Cornerstone has seen since 1990, a spokesman with the agency said. That's when Cornerstone first began a program to place people with disabilities in subsidized homes in the community. The agency now provides residential services to 140 adults and 90 children in Joliet. It provides similar services to another 100 people in other surrounding towns.
Most of its clients are people with mental or physical disabilities. But Cornerstone already provides subsidized housing for people with mental illnesses.
This building would be the first apartment building both owned by Cornerstone and provided for residents with mental illnesses. But the agency already owns a six-unit apartment building for people with other disabilities and provides duplex housing for individuals with mental illnesses.
Friday, May 30, 2008
By BOB OKON email@example.com
Posted by david at 10:48 AM Permalink