New Peoria development catered to young adults experiencing homelessness secures funding
The wheels are in motion for construction of a new supportive housing project for young adults experiencing homelessness in downtown Peoria.
The 16-unit, four-story apartment building will be adjacent to Phoenix Community Development Services' other properties in the 200 block of NE Madison.
"It's the first one we've done for this population in the whole region. The 18-to 24-year-old youth is kind of one of the growing demographics that we're seeing in the homeless numbers in our region. So we've kind of been long overdue for this," said Christine Kahl, director of Phoenix Community Development Services.
Kahl said many young adults without permanent housing have aged out of the child welfare system. Many LGBTQ+ youth alienated from their families also end up on the streets.
About $6.6 million for the apartments was secured through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). Long-term financing was also provided for seven of the building's apartment units.
Kahl said the approach to assisting young adults without housing on the road to self-sufficiency is different than other populations PCDS works with, like veterans. Some of the skills taught will include how to search for an apartment, how to read through and understand the terms of a lease, and how to secure utility services. Tenants living in the building will be under a lease.
"You're teaching them how to be able to live independently, be a good tenant," she said. "And then the other supportive services that are provided there are more around you know, the mental health conditions, substance abuse conditions, things like that. Those kinds of wraparound services are also made available there."
Kahl said the back half of the building will also feature an arts collaboration space that opens up into the shared "urban oasis" Phoenix is developing for its downtown residents.
Kahl said there's a 12-month construction schedule for the new building, with a March 2024 target date for occupancy at the latest.
"There's a chance, especially, you know, with the homeless population, we hope to get them in actually in the wintertime," she said. "So my contractor knows, I started laying the guilt on them, frankly, you know, in December and saying, I've got people living on the street, can you move a little faster?"
Kahl said the public can help by sponsoring an apartment for $500. That allows Phoenix Community Development Services to purchase items like a low-cost bed, couch, and basic kitchen utensils.
Kahl said plans to convert the former Methodist College building into housing for families experiencing homelessness is also still in the pipeline. A state tax credit application was submitted last month, and Kahl said she expects an answer from IHDA by late May.