Housing in DuPage County
The DuPage Center for Independent Living does not own or manage any housing. We only have information and referral services for housing. Most of the calls the Center gets concerning housing are in two areas----affordable housing and accessible housing.
In DuPage County , most housing is pretty expensive. DuPage County has the second highest cost of living of all counties in the United States . The affordable housing in DuPage County is mostly subsidized housing, funded through federal vouchers. This program is generally known as the Section 8 Program. This program works by having a person pay a percentage of his income-----not a percentage of the rent to a landlord for his rent and the Federal Government pays the difference. Each county that administers this program works through its local housing authority. In DuPage County this would be the DuPage Housing Authority (www.dupagehousing.org).
The DuPage Housing Authority administers one form of the Section 8 Program, the housing choice vouchers. As of August 2002, the housing authority in DuPage County has not received any new vouchers from HUD (the Office of Housing and Urban Development) (www.hud.org). Although the DuPage Housing Authority is still open and running, it is just working on current vouchers. For all practical purposes, it is useless for people looking for a new voucher today.
The other form of the Section 8 Program is site-based or landlord-based housing vouchers. This program is also funded by HUD, but is administered by HUD directly with the owner/landlord. Instead of a person who has a voucher seeking out a possible landlord, a person would seek out a particular apartment in a particular building that has a voucher attached to it. Our Center has a list of these buildings in DuPage County . If you have any questions about your rights to a more accessible housing unit, please contact our Center.
One of the reasons that HUD has not granted the DuPage Housing Authority (or most any other housing authority) any new vouchers since 2002 has a lot to do with HUD's new housing focus: home ownership. HUD would rather put its money into mortgage vouchers than rental vouchers. HUD began a program to turn rental vouchers into mortgage vouchers in 2003, but you still need a current rental voucher to get into the program.
If you are interested in home ownership (and do not have a current DuPage rental voucher), there is still help available. The latest new program is being administered by the DuPage Home Ownership Center (www.dhoc.org). The program begins with a short educational meeting, followed by a credit consultation and finally leads to either help getting a specific three-part mortgage loan or help getting your credit repaired, so that you can eventually apply for the same mortgage loan.
Accessibility can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. In the housing field accessibility means that a housing unit has certain accessible features: wider doorways (usually at least 36 inches wide), easy to access outlets and light switches, re-enforced walls for possible grab bars in the tub or shower, enough room in a small room for a normal wheelchair to swivel around 360 degrees, ramps or elevators and counters in a kitchen or bathroom that a wheelchair could slide under. There are a few other accessible features that could be included, but this is a good start.
There are probably some really accessible housing units in DuPage County, but they are probably pretty expensive; possibly even custom built. Most people who contact the DuPage Center for Independent Living cannot afford a custom-built home, so we try to locate something else for them. There are a couple of accessible housing units in DuPage County. One is the Illinois Center for Independent Living in Naperville (630-357-0077). All units in this building are accessible. Another accessible apartment building----also in Naperville ----is Maple Court (630-357-3696). This building was built by Bill Malleris, a man who uses a wheelchair. He built this building to be accessible to anyone.
Another option for accessible housing is making your current housing unit more accessible to you. If you own a housing unit, you can determine what your accessibility needs are and have your housing unit altered to become more accessible. If you rent your housing unit, you will probably need your landlord's permission to make the accessible changes. Depending on the age of your housing unit, you may be able to force the landlord to let you make the accessible changes. If you have any questions about your rights to a more accessible housing unit, please contact our Center.
To become more independent in your housing may mean some financial help. To make housing units more accessible usually means a financial investment. To help any disabled person in Illinois to become more independent (and having a more accessible housing unit is part of that), a special loan program is now being offered by the Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP) (www.techconnect.iltech.org). This low-cost loan program can loan you as little as $500 and as much as $40,000. The interest rate is only 3% and, depending on circumstances, the loan can be extended for many years. All the paperwork for the Tech Connect loan is available at our Center.