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Aurora seeks grants to help Hesed House and Mutual Ground shelters expand

The Beacon-News - 6/13/2024

Aurora is seeking a total of $4 million in federal money to help both Hesed House and Mutual Ground expand.

The money would go toward reconstructing and thus expanding the family shelter at Hesed House, which works to help the homeless, and toward construction of a new shelter facility at Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter.

The money would come from special federal Community Development Block Grant funds that were allocated as part of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Both homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters came under heavy use and pressure because of the pandemic, officials have said.

The money is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is where the city will apply.

Members of the Aurora City Council’s Public Health, Safety and Transportation Committee recommended having the city apply for the grants. It would be two, $2 million grants, one for each of the projects.

The Hesed House family shelter is for entire homeless families to be able to stay together. The planned project would be to renovate the facility and expand the number of families it can serve.

At Mutual Ground, the money would go toward a new shelter facility next to the current one on West Park Avenue, a former mansion remodeled into a shelter.

Julie Frankino, the city’s grant writer, said because the special pandemic-related federal allocation included domestic violence shelters, it gives the city a “wonderful opportunity” to help Mutual Ground.

Linda Maranda, Mutual Ground’s chief executive officer, said the money would allow the shelter to build a new building, increasing the capacity from 28 people to 40.

It would be the first phase of a planned project Mutual Ground is currently raising funds for, which includes renovating the 1853 mansion.

Both items will come before the City Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday.

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