Plans are underway in Flossmoor for the state’s first permanent supportive apartments for persons with developmental disabilities.
New Hope Center, a south suburban not-for-profit agency providing services to persons with intellectual and age-related disabilities, is seeking to develop the apartments on Leavitt Avenue just north of Flossmoor Road. Agency representatives went before the Flossmoor Plan Commission last month and are scheduled to make a second appearance on Jan. 21.
Tim Knapp, New Hope’s executive director, said Flossmoor is “ideal” for the apartments, which will be designed for high functioning persons with developmental disabilities who otherwise would live with their parents or in group homes.
New Hope has not yet purchased either the Montessori building or the house.
“There’s so much to offer in this community,” he said. “The apartments would be close to downtown Flossmoor and all its amenities like public transportation and restaurants. During warm weather months, it’s not that hard to walk or take a bike ride to Walt’s for groceries.”
Knapp said New Hope has yet to start putting together a list of possible tenants but that they would probably be persons 22 to 35 years old with high school diplomas and jobs. Some might have driver’s licenses. They would live independently and receive only limited services from New Hope, he said.
Under the plan, New Hope would develop six apartments at the former Martsci Montessori School building at 1038 Leavitt Ave. and the house just to the north. The house is to be torn down. Knapp said four apartments would be constructed in the Montessori building and two in the structure to be built on the site of the house.
If approved, the construction project would probably begin this summer and take about a year to complete, Knapp said.
At December’s plan commission meeting, New Hope asked for an exception to current zoning standards so that the complex would have eight apartments, Knapp said. Plan commission members said eight units would exceed the village’s density standards and that New Hope would also have to follow existing parking criteria. Knapp said New Hope has modified the plan so that it is now in line with current zoning regulations.
A handful of parents of developmentally disabled children spoke at the meeting, Knapp said.
“They said this is exactly the kind of living situation they’d like to have for their children,” he said.
New Hope operates 13 group homes for disabled persons. However, the permanent supportive apartment would provide a completely differently living situation than a group home, Knapp said.
“We talk to young people who are getting ready to graduate from high school and many of them tell us they don’t want to live in a group home,” he said.”They want to live independently.”
A number of parents have also indicated that they want their adult children to live in a supportive apartment environment, he said.
“I met recently with some parents who said that they’d like see their daughter in this type of setting when she’s older. She’s 8 years old but they are already making plans for when she’s an adult.”
Illinois currently has no permanent supportive apartments for developmentally disabled persons, Knapp said, adding that the state’s Department of Human Services is looking closely at this project to see if it could serve as a model for future housing for the disabled.
New Hope, now in its 56th year, was founded by parents seeking better opportunities for their children with disabilities. The agency provides services – including training, education and housing assistance — to more than 400 families with disabilities in south Cook County and northeast Will County.
The Jan. 21 plan commission meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Flossmoor Village Hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road.
New Hope will present an information session on the project at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, 2640 Park Drive in Flossmoor.