Joliet council votes on rehab housing for women with children

City has turned away three previous plans for residential programs

Stepping Stones plans to build apartments that could house seven women who could live with their children while getting treatment for drug or alcohol addictions.

The city’s reluctance to approve new residential programs for social services may change Tuesday when a Stepping Stones plan goes to the City Council.

Stepping Stones wants to build apartments that would provide housing for seven mothers who could stay with young children while getting treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

The plan faced some scrutiny at a City Council workshop session Monday ahead of the regular meeting on Tuesday when the council will vote.

But, unlike three previous projects, the Stepping Stones plan comes with a recommendation of approval from Joliet city staff. And while the plan faced questions from some council members it also appeared to get support from others.

Stepping Stones needs city approval for construction of the apartment building that would be added to its offices and a residential facility for individuals at 1620 Plainfield Road. The new facility would allow a mother to live with two children up to age five and one infant while undergoing rehabilitation.

Stepping Stones officials say this would be only the fourth such facility in Illinois, where mothers face a choice between getting the treatment they need or giving up their children.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep them engaged in treatment,” Stepping Stones Executive Director Paul Lauridsen said under questioning from Council Member Larry Hug.

Paul Lauridsen, Executive Director of Stepping Stones poses for a photo on Wednesday, February 15th in Joliet.

City officials in recent years have made a point of Joliet repeatedly becoming the location for residential programs aimed at providing social services.

That led to three previous projects being shelved before they came to a vote at City Council.

Plans from Morning Star Mission to provide homeless housing at a Larkin Avenue hotel and the former Briggs Street YMCA both were pulled without a vote. So was a Volunteers of America plan to build housing for women with drug addictions at the former Silver Cross Hospital campus.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman on Monday repeatedly questioned whether children would be safe at the Stepping Stones apartments, noting that a proposed playground could be exposed to errant vehicles coming off of Plainfield Road.

Architect Bob Morris noted that there is new landscaping and a building between the playground and Plainfield Road.

Councilwoman Sherri Reardon, recounting that she knew of a couple that went on to lead productive lives after going through the Stepping Stones program, said the safety of children should be considered in light of the alternatives.

“They’re much safer being there with their mothers getting help,” Reardon said.