On Friday, officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development presented a check for $402,600 to the Joliet Housing Authority to help shelter 50 residents with disabilities.
Last week, HUD awarded about $2.5 million to communities across Illinois to provide affordable housing for more than 300 nonelderly individuals with disabilities, according to a news release.
At a news conference Friday, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan lauded the Joliet Housing Authority for its efforts to secure funds to help local residents.
He said the application process was tough because the JHA was competing with several other housing authorities around the state and country.
“I continue to say, apply for the money,” Galvan said. “Apply, spend it quickly and come back for more.”
Michael Simelton, the chief executive officer of the JHA, thanked his staff for their work. He also assured Galvan with a quote attributed to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky in which he said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
“We’re going to keep applying,” Simelton said.
Fewer than 10 housing authorities throughout Illinois, including those in Peoria, Champaign County and Springfield, received grants this year.
Nationally, public housing authorities received more than $131 million to help more than 15,000 people.
HUD’s Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program provides housing assistance, particularly to those who are transitioning out of institutional or other separated settings.
The federal agency said the programs help to further the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act in helping people live in the most integrated setting possible.
Galvan emphasized that the money will help give “choice and mobility” to those who benefit from the program.
As a Chicago-area native, Galvan said, he remembered his own family’s struggles to find affordable housing when he was young and his father was physically disabled.
“The unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities ... doesn’t just impact them,” Galvan said. “It hits and impacts their families, and at the end of the day, the entire community.”
HUD’s program also encourages partnerships between local housing authorities and health and human services agencies with a demonstrated capacity to coordinate voluntary and supportive services that allow beneficiaries to live independently.