This month, the Will County Board discussed approving funding to develop a strategic plan to address homelessness in the area.
While local officials already work with Kendall and Grundy counties, area nonprofits, businesses and other entities to provide assistance to those in need, the county is required to do more. This network of resources is known as the Will County Continuum of Care and is led by the Will County Center for Community Concerns.
Ron Pullman, Will County’s community development director, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now requiring CoC’s to develop a communitywide strategic plan to address homelessness. He said that such a plan would help determine how to best use HUD funds and that other comparable communities around the country have already developed strategic plans.
“It makes communities think a little more holistically about how to deal with homeless situations,” he said.
Pullman is in the early stages of securing funding to develop the plan and he’s looking to raise $70,000 to $75,000. The city of Joliet has allocated up to $20,000, and the Will County Board is considering matching that amount. Pullman said he’s also in the process of approaching other stakeholders, such local health care providers, to chip in.
At least one board member, Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, asked Pullman at a Sept. 12 executive committee meeting where the funding would be coming from. Pullman told him he’d be working with the county executive’s office to identify funding sources.
Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, and Moustis said they wanted to know more about who else was contributing to the development of the plan.
“We want to help the homeless, but I want us to be as efficient as we can,” Moustis said.
Member Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, said Will County should be taking the responsibility to develop a plan because, compared with neighboring counties, it contains the majority of the homeless population.
“The burden really is on our county,” Ventura said. “And so we really need to take responsibility of that.”
Member Amanda Koch, D-Frankfort, said she’s in favor of developing a plan and wants to address other members’ concerns about the funding. She intends to bring it up for approval at the County Board’s modern housing solutions committee, which she helms, on Oct. 3.
The board would then have to approve the funding. Speaker Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, said she expects the board to take up the matter at either its October or November meeting.