Photo: New Star Services. Chicago Tribune
Officials on Thursday celebrated the opening of a new housing option for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The six-unit Leavitt Apartments, 1032 Leavitt Ave., in Flossmoor, was described as the first such venture of its kind in Illinois, offering an independent living setting for persons with developmental disabilities, according to the Illinois Housing Development Authority and New Star Services.
The residents will begin moving into the apartments, which were built specifically for persons with special needs, in the coming weeks, according to New Star, which will provide on-site services for the tenants, who are undergoing an application process with the Housing Authority of Cook County.
Formed last summer through the merger of New Hope Center and SouthSTAR Services, New Star provides services to 650 children and adults in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana.
The apartments, located adjacent to Leavitt Park, were financed with $2.3 million in state bond money, and rental assistance for the units will be provided by the county housing authority.
“These are critically needed apartments that will go a long way to improve quality of life for people with disabilities,” Audra Hamernik, executive director of the state housing authority, said in a news release. “With affordable rents, access to neighborhood amenities and connections to supportive services, they will ensure that every resident can reach their full potential, regardless of the challenges they face.”
The apartments are within walking distance of a Metra station, downtown Flossmoor, the library and post office.
The people who will move into Leavitt are New Star clients currently living with family but are independent enough to live on their own with minimal assistance, according to Patricia Trebe, a spokeswoman for New Star. Four people have so far completed the county’s “extensive” application process to move in, she said.
The apartments are designed for persons with disabilities, such as wider doorways and lower kitchen countertops to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, and audible and visual fire alarms as well as power-operated windows, according to Dan Strick, New Star’s president and chief executive. Strick had been president and chief executive of SouthSTAR prior to last July’s merger.
He said that Leavitt is unique because the residents “are able to live a little more independently than in a group home.”
“New Star is always looking for more housing options for persons with intellectual disabilities,” he said.
New Star provides services including education, life-management skills and job training and operates 23 group homes in communities including Crete, Dolton, Flossmoor, Matteson, Oak Forest and South Holland. At group homes, residents have 24-hour care, while at Leavitt, New Star will provide about 15 hours each week of supportive services to residents, Trebe said.