A LaGrange-based agency that provides emergency shelter and support services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness has proposed building a three-story facility at 9601 Ogden Ave., just across the street from Brookfield.
BEDS Plus on Feb. 10 pitched a plan to construct a facility on a long-vacant parcel of land at the southwest corner of Ogden and East avenues to the LaGrange Plan Commission.
The agency’s administrative and support service offices would be on the first floor of the building, while the top two stories would house 20 “permanent supportive” studio housing units for clients of the agency.
The project would be funded through a combination of government grants and private donations, according to the agency’s planned development application on file with the village of LaGrange. The agency has a contract to purchase the property, which is bank-owned.
“Housing is a way to stabilize people who otherwise might not be able to be self-sufficient,” said BEDS Plus Executive Director Tina Rounds. “Their clients would not be shelter users and they would operate in many ways like an apartment. Some will move on, but we expect the clientele to remain relatively constant.”
According to Rounds, people obtaining the housing would go through an interview process and sign sublease agreements with BEDS Plus.
“We’d expect them to maintain the parameters of the lease, and we would give preference to people who are from the community,” Rounds said.
Members of the LaGrange Plan Commission did not vote on the BEDS Plus proposal on Feb. 10. Instead, the commission asked the agency to provide more information on the impact of the facility to neighboring properties and village services, a traffic study and more information on the projected need for parking.
In its planned unit development application, BEDS Plus is asking for the roughly 22,000-square-foot parcel of land to be rezoned from its current commercial designation to an institutional use. In addition, the agency is asking for a variation from village parking standards. The project includes 28 parking spaces; village code calls for 46 spaces for a development of this size. It’s also asking for a variation to accommodate slightly narrower parking spaces.
Finally, the project requires a zoning variation to allow a greater ratio of floor area inside the building than what is allowed under the code for the size of the property.
In the staff report on the agency’s application, Community Development Director Patrick Benjamin stated that should the Plan Commission approve the planned development, it ought to come with certain conditions related to 24-hour supervision of the facility, the number of clients the agency can serve at any one time at the facility, property maintenance and village approval of any change in the property’s ownership in the future.
“We’re looking at it just as the commission is,” said Benjamin in a phone interview. “The site works well and [BEDS Plus] is trying to meet all of our guidelines.”
The LaGrange Plan Commission will continue its examination of the BEDS Plus application at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at the LaGrange Village Hall, 53 S. LaGrange Road.
Should the Plan Commission vote on the application at that meeting, the matter could be before the LaGrange village board for approval or denial by spring.
BEDS Plus has been exploring consolidating its administrative and support service sites and providing permanent housing for its clients for several years. The agency previously expressed interest in building a facility in Brookfield at the Moose Lodge property at 4000 DuBois Boulevard, not too far from the proposed LaGrange site.
The agency’s administrative staff presently operates out of the First Presbyterian Church, 150 S. Ashland Ave. in LaGrange, while its support center is housed at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 203 S. Kensington Ave. in LaGrange.
Those offices would vacate the churches and be housed on the first floor of the new building. Meanwhile, the agency would continue to operate its seven emergency shelters, which are each open one night per week from Oct. 1 to May 15 between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The shelters are located in LaGrange, Countryside and LaGrange Park. BEDS Plus shelters have also operated in Brookfield previously, but do not at this time. St. Louise de Marillac Church in LaGrange Park operates a BEDS Plus shelter on Sunday nights.
In 2014, BEDS Plus served 441 people, of whom 163 were shelter clients. About two-thirds of the agency’s clients come from Lyons, Riverside, Stickney and southern Proviso townships, according to Rounds. Last year, overnight shelters housed an average of 26 people per night.
“We try to get people placed [in permanent housing] as quickly as possible,” said Rounds. “One large need is affordable and subsidized housing. Those are the people we’re trying to help with this [new] facility.”
Rounds said the agency expects the number of homeless served at the shelters to diminish as clients move into the permanent housing facility.
“We will still operate the emergency overnight shelters,” said Rounds, “but we expect the numbers to reduce as we implement our strategies to prevent homelessness.”