BRAIDWOOD – Mayor Bill Rulien thinks military veterans make good community members.
“Veterans, as a group, are people that are good at volunteering, that are good at teamwork, that will help their neighbors. They are people you want in your community,” Rulien said.
Within the next year, Rulien and other Braidwood officials hope to recruit more veterans to the area through a housing program that markets homes at a discounted rate to veterans, police officers and firefighters.
A veterans organization known as Restoration America, based out of Hoffman Estates, will be constructing 35 new homes within the Townes of Braidwood subdivision near Cermak and English streets, and it is working with the village to fill those homes with veterans and local emergency personnel.
Through a program known as Welcome Home Heroes, Restoration America ensures that all military veterans receive a $10,000 state-funded grant to use as a down payment on the home; police and fire officials receive a $7,000 grant.
All Illinois veterans are eligible for an additional $18,000 in grant funding that can be put toward purchasing a new home.
Restoration America will sell the homes at a price less than market value as an added incentive for the veterans.
The Welcome Home Heroes program has achieved success in other municipalities in Illinois, but according to Director Charles Konkus, Restoration America was drawn to Braidwood because of its close proximity to the newly-constructed Edward Hines Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Joliet.
“Our goal here is to get veterans into new housing and have them serviced by the new veterans hospital in Joliet,” Konkus said.
In the future, a public bus service may be provided to transport the veterans from the subdivision to the hospital located about 27 miles away, Konkus said.
The homes will be built in styles to accommodate various ages and family units – from young couples with children to elderly veterans with no family.
The cost of the homes is still unknown, but Konkus said the organization hopes to begin construction on the first set of homes within the next few months.
Anyone can purchase one of the homes, but they will not receive the same grant aid and discounts that veterans, police and fire personnel will receive, Konkus said.
“We will sell these to anybody at all, but we specialize in selling to veterans,” Konkus said.
The vacant Townes of Braidwood lots were purchased by the village earlier this year after the developer of the subdivision was unable to finish building on the remaining lots.
The village agreed to sell the lots to Restoration America for about $12,000 each, Rulien said.
In coming months, Rulien, Konkus and others will be “pounding the drum” by attending local VFW groups, talking to Veterans Assistance Commissions and other veterans groups to generate interest in the homes.
Rulien said the village is excited about the prospect of helping the veterans and bringing them into the community.
“It’s just a win-win for everybody,” he said.
For information on purchasing a home through Restoration America, visit restorationamerica.org