Wednesday, January 21, 2015

By Jorge Rodas

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — The man in charge of the Rockford’s Housing Authority says the city isn’t valuing the people who live in public housing.

RHA CEO Ron Clewer says alderman have an outdated idea of what public housing is and that’s making it difficult to change the complexes which already exists.

“I believe that for some in our city that message indeed is that people that live in housing don’t matter,” said Clewer.

Clewer says some city alderman don’t value the people who live in public housing and those who are trying to make it better, specifically singling out the city’s 5th ward alderman Venita Hervey.

“I’ve been told that I don’t like poor people, I don’t like disabled people, and I don’t like minorities because I oppose some of these things, and the first thing I ask people is ‘where the blank do you live,'” said Hervey at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “I think the worst thing that we can do is in any way shape or form is to concentrate those people.”

“It bothered me when Venita spoke,” said Clewer, “[and] what disturbs me most is when we hear elected officials say comments about ‘those people.'”

Alderman voted down a partnership that would have allowed the two groups to apply for a 28 million dollar federal grant through HUD to help pay for demolishing the city’s Fairgrounds Valley housing complex and build a new one resembling the Jane Addams complex on College Ave and Seminary St near downtown.

“Where’s the money going to come from if we say no,” asked 6th Ward alderman Marcus Hill.

He was one of two who voted for the partnership.

“How do you tell them that there’s money on the table to improve your neighborhood or to improve the place that you’re in, but we won’t take that,” he said.

“I was mad as hell to be quite honest with you,” says Clewer about the ‘no’ vote. “We just said by vote ‘no, we don’t want it’ and that’s discouraging to me.”

Clewer says now he has to find other ways to secure money for the project which took two years to formulate with help from people living in the west side communities it will impact most.

Clewer says now the problem is there aren’t many more grants to be had.

Clewer says the project isn’t over and the next steps are to regroup and try to figure out where else RHA can find money, through state grants or other means. Clewer says he still wants to try to get the city involved and won’t give up on creating a partnership.


Watch the newstory and read the full article at WIFR 23 here: