A nod to Cannon

Mary Wicoff|Commercial-NewsCelya Robles, left, property manager of Cannon Place, shows a kitchen and living room to Mary E. Davis, middle, national president of the American Legion Auxiliary, and Cheri Stanton of Monmouth, American Legion Department of Illinois' first female commander. Davis and others toured the new apartments last week during a visit to the VA.

DANVILLE — A new apartment complex for veterans has been named Cannon Place, in honor of the influential congressman who lobbied to bring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to Danville.

The Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System and Mercy Housing Lakefront announced the name of the 65-unit supportive housing building on the VA Danville campus.

The complex will provide affordable and supportive housing for homeless, at risk of homelessness and disabled veterans and their families.

The name honors Joseph Gurney Cannon, who served in Congress for 46 years between 1873 and 1923, including an eight-year stint as the 35th speaker of the House of Representatives. His tenure as a congressman ranks second among Republican representatives to this day.

In 1876, Cannon moved to Danville, where he resided for the rest of his life.

Cannon used his political influence to establish the Danville branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in 1898. The Danville branch became a neuropsychiatric hospital in 1935. VA Illiana Health Care System continues to improve the health of the men and women who have served the country.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the apartments is scheduled for April 20.

Stephanie Young, director of the Illiana System, said, “Congressman Joseph Cannon’s influential role to bringing the VA facility to Danville was the basis for naming the new veterans’ supportive housing building in his honor.

“The VA in Danville is here today because of this congressman.”

Celya Robles, property manager at Cannon Place, said about 58 units are occupied, so there are some vacancies. Applicants go through the VA first before being referred to Mercy Housing.

Robles said 11 children reside at the complex, and she hopes to add a play area for them later.

Last week, women representing various levels of the American Legion Auxiliary toured the apartments and the VA. Accompanying them was Cheri Stanton of Monmouth, American Legion Department of Illinois' first female commander.

Mary E. Davis of Lacey, Wash., national president of the Legion Auxiliary, was impressed with the apartments. She is president of the world’s largest patriotic service organization, based in Indianapolis.

"The facility for homeless veterans is an amazing facility to give homeless veterans, not only a new beginning, but a place to restore their dignity," she said.

The building includes 65 furnished apartments, community gathering spaces, resident computer center, fitness center, outdoor patio, and supportive services offices. Some of the rooms look out at a gazebo and wooded area. There’s also a donation room that collects items for the veterans, such as dishes, cleaning supplies, shower curtains, pillows, shampoo and other toiletries donated by various groups and businesses.

Residents began moving in at the end of September 2016.

The supportive housing development will provide residents with access to medical needs, referrals to services such as mental and physical health assessment/treatment, linkages to community partnerships designed to maintain self-sufficiency, and the opportunity for continuing education at neighboring Danville Area Community College.

In 2015, a groundbreaking occurred for the $11 million project. The site was once a golf course on the VA campus.

The Danville Housing Authority along with partners, the VA and Mercy Housing Lakefront, secured $245,850 in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for 65 project-based Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers for local homeless veterans.

Mark Angelini, president of Mercy Housing Lakefront, said in a news release, “We are proud to work alongside the VA to provide those who have served our country with the safe, stable homes they deserve. With the opening of Cannon Place, Central Illinois has one of the premier housing options for veterans in the country.

“We look forward to providing high-quality property management and resident services in the years to come.”

The facility is a collaborative partnership between VA and Mercy Housing Lakefront, one of the largest and most innovative community development organizations in the Midwest. The Enhanced-Use Lease program out-leases under-used real estate to the private sector to develop supportive housing for homeless, at-risk of homelessness, disabled veterans and their families.

The Enhanced-Use Lease development was made possible by the financial support of a variety of public, private and non-profit organizations, including the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, U.S. Bank, First Midwest Bank, National Equity Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Citi Community Development, the MetLife Foundation and The Home Depot Foundation.

Mercy Housing officials have said they’d like to construct a second building in a second phase.

ABOUT ILLIANA

In Fiscal Year 2016, VAIHCS provided service to about 33,052 veterans with a catchment area that covers 30 counties in Illinois and Indiana. VAIHCS also operates community-based outpatient clinics in Decatur, Mattoon, Peoria, Springfield and West Lafayette, Ind.

ABOUT MERCY

Mercy Housing Lakefront (MHL) has been working for 30 years to build a region where everyone has an affordable home to use as a springboard to achieve better health, economic security, and a brighter future for their kids. By the end of 2017, MHL and its sister companies will have developed or preserved nearly 9,000 affordable homes enabling more than 16,000 people to live in hope in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Learn more at mercyhousinglakefront.org, facebook.com/mercyhousinglakefront, and twitter.com/mercyhousinglf.

FYI

• A ribbon- cutting ceremony for the new Cannon Place will be April 20.

• People may learn more at https://www.mercyhousing.org/Illinois/Danville-Veterans-Supportive-Housing

• Applicants also may contact Betsy Wagoner or Andi Phillips at the VA at 554-5201.

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