Daily Herald interviews LZ Compassionate Community

Some Lake Zurich-area residents have formed a group that supports placing homeless people with mental illness in a vacant building just outside the village, a proposal that has faced long-organized opposition.

Two LZ Compassionate Community members introduced themselves Thursday to officials at a meeting of the Lake County Housing Authority, which owns the 14-unit Midlothian Manor. The vacant former seniors facility, which closed in 2010, is at Midlothian Road and Oakwood Lane in Ela Township on Lake Zurich’s northern edge.

Betty Birner of Hawthorn Woods said the group started about three weeks ago because many residents back the idea of PADS Lake County operating the facility for the housing authority as a federal Safe Haven program serving the chronically homeless with mental illness.

“It is the best way for these folks to get back on their feet,” Birner said. “And we are hoping people will learn, educate themselves. We have a group that has pulled themselves together to help educate the community, to learn that this is a benefit and a bonus both for the residents and the community.”

LZ Compassionate Community member Lisa Warder said Midlothian Manor supporters began social media conversations after that meeting at Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich. They agreed there was a need to form a support group.

“We’re also creating some volunteer opportunities for residents, things like coming together to make welcome signs for the (homeless) residents when they move into the area,” said Warder, who’s from Lake Zurich. “We want to organize a community cookout for them when they move in. And even to create just a list of volunteers for people to bring homemade meals or snacks, goodies, to the new residents. Things that you would do when any other person moved into your neighborhood.”

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