Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza says that nearly $11 million in funds have been paid out in February for construction and improvements at two Illinois veterans’ homes.
“I’ve been proud to advocate forcefully for the safety and well-being of the residents and workers at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Whether they live in the Chicago area, central or southern Illinois, our veterans deserve quality care and a safe, comfortable place to call home,” Mendoza said in the statement.
Mendoza’s office released a payment of more than $7 million on Feb. 22 for the Quincy work.
State officials committed last year to rebuild the home which dates to the Civil War era for $245 million because of a Legionnaire’s disease crisis, NBC-TV reported.
The flu-like illness caused by inhaling bacteria-infected water vapor has led to the deaths of 14 residents there since 2015. A dozen occurred in that first summer before officials took steps to minimize the release of tainted water, the broadcaster reported.
Last summer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 3128, the Quincy Veterans’ Home Rehabilitation Act, allowing for the state to move forward on an expansion at the current facility while reducing red tape on future construction to allow the state to proceed more expediently on the project.
The legislation allows the veteran’s home to complete its five-year capital development plan with design-build contracting through the Capital Development Board and the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs. “This is expected to eliminate redundancies associated with the traditional construction process, and is anticipated to reduce time spent on the project and associated costs,” a Senate news release said. The legislation also provides for the deposit and use of federal funds received as reimbursement for capital improvement project expenses.
Over the next five years, the campus will undergo a major rehabilitation to update the care facilities and residence to ensure it is up to code and safe for veteran residents and their families.
The Quincy campus is the largest veterans’ home in Illinois.
House Bill 5683 authorizes a recently purchased adjacent nursing facility to be included as an official part of the Quincy redevelopment. This structure will be used as temporary housing for veterans during the reconstruction project.
The comptroller’s office Quincy funding comes after a $3.8 million payment was released earlier in in February for restart work on construction at the Chicago Veterans’ Home. The $71 million project began in 2014 but the budget stalemate halted work, NBC reported.
Both payments come from funding approved for the current fiscal year.