ENGLEWOOD — Darrell Phillips is one of many low-income veterans that now call Hope Manor II in Englewood home.
The 31-year-old husband and father of three children, who grew up in Garfield Park, said even though he spent 13 years in the Army, when he came back to Chicago in 2008 he struggled to maintain housing for his family.
"Veterans go through a lot when they return home from the service and sometimes we do not get the help we need," Phillips said. "After everything I did for this country I don't feel I should have struggled the way I did. No veteran should have to face hard times when they return home."
But the Friday grand opening of Hope Manor II, 6002 S. Halsted St., brought an end to the housing struggles of Phillips and other veterans.
The 73-unit complex has units ranging from studios to four-bedrooms. Veterans with Housing Choice Vouchers pay 30 percent of their income towards rent.
The complex also offers free tutoring for children, family counseling and an outdoor playlot for small children.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th), whose ward includes the new housing development, joined veterans and community residents for a Friday ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The mayor pledged to end homelessness for veterans in Chicago by the end of 2015 and reiterated that City Colleges of Chicago now offers academic credit to veterans.
"Veterans won't be sleeping under bridges or in parks anymore. Not in Chicago they won't," Emanuel said. "Veterans should not have to pay for something they already know. That won't be the case anymore at City Colleges. They will receive credit for their experience in the military."
Thompson reminded veterans that the new housing development sits on the site of the former Hospital of Englewood, which closed in 1988.
"I did not know when I first contacted Volunteers of America about helping me bring a veterans building to Englewood that God was sending me a fighter for veterans and that person is Nancy Hughes Moyer," Thompson said. "And I want Englewood to know that I have a partner at City Hall working with me to make things happen for the betterment of the community and that partner is Mayor Rahm Emanuel."
Moyer, president and CEO of the nonprofit Volunteers of America of Illinois, said it partnered with the Chicago Housing Authority to develop Hope Manor II.
Hope Manor Apartments is located in Humboldt Park; Quinn said plans for a Hope Manor III building are underway in Joliet.
"My parents grew up in Englewood and it is a wonderful place to put this development," said Quinn. "To date, Illinois has assisted with the development of 860 units of veteran housing in Illinois, and we [the state] want to be known as the veteran friendly state of the union."
Thompson said that more housing for veterans and other at-risk individuals are needed, which is why she opened a housing facility in Englewood last year for ex-offenders.
For nine years Dallas Wade has been an Army reserve guard whose service time includes time in Iraq. The husband and father of three small children said he went through a three-year period of not having stable housing, in part, because of a disability that hinders him from performing physical work.
"Before I moved to Hope Manor II we [my family] had nowhere to go. But thanks to Volunteers of America we now live in a three-bedroom apartment and we love it," said Wade, who grew up in Woodlawn. "My family and I have been swept off our feet with the help we have received from Volunteers of America. Now I can serve my country proud knowing my family has a place to lay their heads at night."
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