Neighbors continue to object to Hope Village project in north Urbana

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URBANA — Work is already underway on the planned Hope Village in northwest Urbana, but objections from neighbors of the development persist.

One major concern is why the location on Federal Drive, which is in Urbana but north of Champaign’s Carver Park neighborhood, was selected to become the site for a community of tiny homes for medically fragile homeless people.

“Truth be told, we don’t want the development at all,” said Carver Park Neighborhood Association President Deborah Roberts. “It’s not to say we don’t have any sympathy for the homeless. This is just not the location for what they’re doing.”

Hope Village’s developers — Carle Health, the University of Illinois and Champaign County Health Care Consumers — conducted the third community meeting to address concerns on Thursday.

Carle spokeswoman Brittany Simon said questions have been answered, and the partners in the development have striven to connect with the community.

“We have worked really hard to provide that transparency of our goal here,” she said.

The first building permit has already been issued for Hope Village, where a community center and a model tiny home will be the first structures built. Permits haven’t yet been issued for 30 tiny homes that are planned.

The 11.3-acre site for Hope Village was chosen from a list of 18 (ranging in size from 2.5 acres to 153 acres) provided by the city of Urbana as possible sites to consider, according to the city’s Principal Planner Kevin Garcia.

The others, all in Urbana, were:

1808 Oak St.1101 Bradley Ave.1011 Bradley Ave.1301 N. Lincoln Ave.1901 E. Florida Ave.804 Pfeffer Road2509 E. Washington St.1607 S. High Cross Road1801 S. High Cross Road704 E. Windsor Road1602 Amber Lane3000 Philo Road1701 Susan Stone Drive3105 Susan Stone Drive2402 E. Windsor RoadTwo properties without addresses that are part of farmland between Washington Street and Riggs Beer Co.

Health Care Consumers Executive Director Claudia Lennhoff said not all those sites would have worked, however.

For one thing, not all of them were available. Some didn’t have the correct infrastructure and access, and not all were the right size needed for Hope Village, she said.

Terry Townsend of Champaign said two major issues remaining on the table are location and plans for accessing the development through the Carver Park neighborhood.

“Nobody has problems with tiny homes, but the first concern was location, the perception that here we go again, the city is just dumping on the African American community,” he said.

As far as accessing the development is concerned, neighbors want access to be off Kenyon Road to Federal Drive rather than through the neighborhood, Townsend said.

“They’re going to disrupt the peace and quiet of those people,” he said.

Lennhoff said heavy equipment for the construction is accessing the site via Federal Drive. Once the development opens, she said, vehicles coming to Hope Village are expected to be limited, since most residents won’t likely have cars, and any vehicles there will be parked in a parking lot.

Another concern for Roberts is a detention basin very close to the neighborhood, whether it will be a dry basin or a pond, and what plans may be to keep children in the neighborhood safe from it.

Neighborhood resident Jackie Curry said she, too, is concerned about the detention basin.

“There’s nothing around it to keep kids from falling into it,” she said.

Increased traffic is also a concern.

And, she said, “we have certain questions about what type of people will be up there.”

Along with providing permanent supportive housing for the homeless with chronic medical conditions, plans for Hope Village include intensive case management, counseling and health services via Carle’s mobile clinic.

Simon said Carle and its co-developers in Hope Village remain open to hearing feedback and collaborating with the community as much as possible.

“But we’re very proud of what Hope Village is going to bring to the community, and I think we’ve brought together the right players to address this population,” she said.

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