Rock Island Housing Authority Re-Groups After Grant Denied Print
News/Features - Local News
Written by John Perreault   
Tuesday, 14 June 2005 18:00
The Rock Island Housing Authority (RIHA) is in the process of reapplying for the federal HOPE VI grant, after having its first application, for $20 million, denied on May 17. The grant is intended to be the facilitator for a $40. 3-million urban-revitalization development encompassing both the Valley Homes and other pending RIHA housing projects.

The housing authority’s original HOPE VI Grant application states that the money, if awarded, will be used for the demolition, rehabilitation, reconfiguration, and replacement of “severely distressed” public housing – the Valley Homes at 1003 25th Street.

Mary Czerwinski, RIHA’s administrative assistant, said that if funding from HOPE VI or other sources is not available upon the demolition of Valley Homes, the redevelopment process might be put on hiatus until funding is available. In other words, Valley Homes will be demolished, but there is no guarantee that replacement will occur.

In addition to the HOPE VI Grant, RIHA is also applying for a $500,000 Capitol Fund Grant, which is provided by the State of Illinois. The grant, if awarded, will be used solely for the demolition of Valley Homes if the HOPE VI reapplication is denied. “It’s not a lot [of money], but it will at least get the buildings down,” said RIHA Executive Director Susan Anderson. (For more information about Valley Homes, see “New Rock Island Housing Authority Homes Represent the First New Public Housing in 22 Years,” River Cities’ Reader Issue 499, October 20-26, 2004.)

HOPE VI is a National Action Plan grant established in 1992. The program was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to fund the demolition and revitalization of severely distraught public-housing units.

According to Anderson, the amount of funding that will be requested in the second HOPE VI application is unknown at this point. RIHA applied for $20 million in its first application, but she said that the application must be revised before a new dollar amount can be determined. The deadline for reapplication is June 29, with anticipated announcement of recipients on September 27.

Typically, six public-housing authorities receive the HOPE VI grant, making it difficult to obtain. In 2004, 33 public-housing authorities requested grants for projects of more than $533 million. Seven were awarded grants totaling more than $126 million. The number and dollar amounts of 2005 grant awards will be determined later this year.

The demolition of Valley Homes, which consists of 57 units, is still slated for early 2006. There is, however, a possibility of the demolition taking place as early as the fall, Anderson said.

As of May 26, Anderson said that there were three families residing at Valley Homes. She also said she hopes the remaining will be relocated at some point this month.

Revitalization of Valley Homes, also known as the Creekwood Project, will consist of 37 single-family homes, with three- and four-bedroom units for sale. The homes will be a mix of public housing and market-rate units. Anderson said that it is too early in the process to know at what price the homes will be sold and/or leased.

The transition/completion of the Creekwood Park project, according to the HOPE VI application, will take approximately three and a half years. Replacement of underground utilities and reconfiguration for Creekwood Park is estimated to cost a little less than $1 million. The City of Rock Island has already contributed $1 million to the Creekwood Park development project for storm and water infrastructure. RIHA, according to the HOPE VI grant application, would contribute $207,000 in capital funds to the project. RIHA’s development partner for the revitalization of Creekwood Park is the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation.

“We are still looking for other grant opportunities for revitalization as they become available,” Anderson said.
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