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Hope Manor Joliet Pioneers Supportive Housing to Veterans and Their Families in Joliet, Illinois

Photograph of the front and side façades of an L-shaped, three-story building, with two additional buildings at either end.
Photograph of a playground, picnic area, and open space adjacent to a three-story residential building.
Photograph of a business center with bookshelves and computer stations.
Photograph of a large, sloping greenspace between three residential buildings.


Home >Case Studies >Hope Manor Joliet Pioneers Supportive Housing for Veterans and Their Families in Joliet, Illinois


Hope Manor Joliet Pioneers Supportive Housing for Veterans and Their Families in Joliet, Illinois


Volunteers of America Illinois (VOAIL), a Chicago-based state affiliate of the 124-year-old national service organization, began providing services to veterans in 2007. Recognizing the critical role of housing in stabilizing veterans in crisis, VOAIL launched Hope Manor Developments, 4 properties in the Chicago metropolitan area that provide housing and supportive services for more than 200 veterans who have experienced or have been at risk of homelessness. Although most supportive housing developments for veterans are designed to serve primarily single men, VOAIL observed that a growing number of veteran-headed families were facing homelessness and designed its second project, Hope Manor II in Chicago, to serve this population. VOAIL’s fourth development, the $19 million Hope Manor Joliet, opened in 2017 and serves both single veterans and veteran-headed households with children. The 67-unit, 4-building complex is located in a quiet neighborhood of single-family detached homes within walking distance of the Joliet Community Based Outpatient Clinic of the Edward Hines, Jr., Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital as well as several other community points of interest. The campus itself offers such amenities as ample green space, a service center, and a children’s resource room. As one of the nation’s first large supportive housing developments designed for veterans with families, Hope Manor Joliet received a 2019 Charles L. Edison Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Veterans Housing category from the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition.

Hope Manor Joliet

Hope Manor Joliet consists of 4 three-story buildings arranged on 3.5 acres of gently rolling hills. The main building, a large L-shaped structure located near the entrance of the campus, hosts the development’s community rooms on the ground floor and 32 one-bedroom units for single veterans on the second and third floors. Because this building is the only one on the campus to have an elevator, it houses all seven of the development’s fully accessible units. The remaining buildings contain the 35 two- and three-bedroom units reserved for veteran-headed households with children.

Eligible tenants of Hope Manor Joliet are individuals or households who either are coming out of homelessness or were formerly at high risk of becoming homeless. Most prospective residents are referred by either the Housing Authority of Joliet or the nearby VA Medical Centers. A plurality of households, 29, must earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) annually; 24 units are further restricted to households earning no more than 50 percent of AMI, and 14 units are limited to those who earn no more than 30 percent of AMI. All units at Hope Manor Joliet are subsidized, with 17 receiving vouchers through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program and the remaining receiving project-based Section 8 vouchers issued by the Housing Authority of Joliet. Because residents are coming out of temporary, precarious, or nonexistent housing situations, each unit is fully furnished. “We provide everything down to the kitchen implements and shower curtains,” says VOAIL president and chief executive officer Nancy Hughes Moyer.

Hope Manor Joliet includes space for the provision of services, socializing, and community activities. The campus is arranged around a parklike green space complete with a central playground, picnic area, and walking paths. Indoors, the ground floor of the main building includes a large community room, classrooms, a business center and library, and a training room. The building also has a children’s resource room that offers a play area, computers, a reading nook, and a homework area. VOAIL and other service partners use these spaces to provide a robust array of services ranging from case management and coordination of care with the VA to art therapy and employment readiness. All services help residents change the trajectory of their lives by building strong support networks and promoting self-sufficiency. Community partners and staff at Hope Manor Joliet offer programs such as parenting classes and youth enrichment activities. Staff also maintain a food bank and an emergency supplies closet in the main building to provide for residents’ needs in times of crisis. Five VOAIL staff are at Hope Manor Joliet full time, with three or four additional staffers cycling in when needed to deliver programming and provide support.

One service that VOAIL considers essential in working with veterans, Hughes Moyer reports, is peer support and counseling. To this end, VOAIL runs an internship program that provides formal training and paid on-the-job experience in providing peer support. VOAIL’s veteran counselors assist other veterans, who have had similar experiences not necessarily shared by members of the general population. This shared experience helps veteran counselors address many issues, including moral injury, a condition that stems from experiencing a high-stakes situation with outcomes that violate the conscience of the survivor. Veteran residents of Hope Manor Joliet are eligible to intern.

A Departing Community Asset Makes Space for Another

In fall 2014, VOAIL was celebrating the recent completion of Hope Manor II when it was approached by a regional medical group about a piece of land in Joliet. The Silver Cross Medical Group, which had served residents of Will County at Silver Cross Hospital for more than 100 years, had recently moved its operations to a larger facility in nearby New Lenox, leaving a vacant plot that area residents were eager to see put back into community use. VOAIL was already familiar with Joliet as the manager of an affordable senior apartment building in the city owned by the national Volunteers of America, and it agreed to develop a supportive veterans’ housing project. The community supported these plans, and Silver Cross Medical Group sold the site to VOAIL for a mere $25,000 — essentially, Hughes Moyer says, just enough to cover the costs of the transfer. The city assisted the project by obtaining some heavily wooded land adjacent to the site and signing it over to VOAIL to ensure that Hope Manor Joliet could comply with the residential area’s density requirements.

The former hospital site in Joliet was larger than the urban plots that VOAIL had previously developed, presenting the organization with the opportunity to build a family-oriented development without the space constraints typical of Chicago. According to Hughes Moyer, VOAIL was able to use the larger space to great advantage, scaling the parklike central area to be nearly the size of a football field to provide substantial outdoor space for children to play. Other amenities, such as the service center, were also larger than would be possible on a typical city lot.


Most of the project’s $19 million development cost was financed by equity from the sale of 9 percent low-income housing tax credits issued by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and syndicated by the National Equity Fund (table 1). VOAIL obtained a 30-year loan for $850,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and deferred $800,000 of its developer fee. Two private entities, the Home Depot Foundation and Niagara Bottling, made donations to VOAIL, which provided the money as a loan for the project. The project also received a grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Magnet Fund for affordable housing.

Table 1: Hope Manor Joliet Financing

Low-income housing tax credit equity


Home Depot Foundation donation


Niagara Bottling donation


Capital Magnet Fund grant


Federal Home Loan Bank loan


Deferred developer fee




Looking Forward for Veterans in Illinois

Hope Manor Joliet was fully leased soon after its completion. Hughes Moyer expects the development will remain at capacity indefinitely because, in VOAIL’s experience, families with children are among the fastest-growing subsets of homeless veterans. To better meet the need for veterans’ housing, VOAIL is planning a fifth development, Hope Manor Village, in the Englewood neighborhood near Hope Manor II. Hughes Moyer states that VOAIL is interested in future investment in Joliet to further the nonprofit’s “place-based” growth strategy, which focuses its efforts and resources on the communities it currently serves. Across its 4 Chicago-area developments, VOAIL provides support services, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing for 2,000 veteran households per year.