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The Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) is a municipal corporation established under Chapter 67 1/2 of the Illinois statutes. RHA is governed by a Board of Commissioners. The Rockford Housing Authority has historically served the housing needs of persons whose income is low and very low in the City of Rockford through HUD-funded public and Section 8 housing. RHA has provided “decent, safe, and sanitary” low-income public housing to Rockford’s citizens for decades. Bridge Rockford Alliance, Inc. (BRaI), 501(C)(3) HUD recognized instrumentality of RHA, was established by resolution of the RHA Board of Commissioners on March 9, 2011.
BRAI extends the services and opportunities of a public housing agency. Instrumentalities allow the housing authority to operate more as private organizations and expand opportunities for residents of affordable housing, housing developments, and the related supporting activities, i.e., health and human services. This broader reach provides BRAI the authority to seek out and enter into new business relationships as a means to support its mission.
The Rockford Housing Authority, alongside Bridge Rockford Alliance, is in a transition from a provider of decent, safe, and sanitary housing to the leading provider of housing that meets a higher community vision.
Currently the Rockford Housing Authority owns and/or manages:
Fairgrounds Valley – Fairgrounds is one of the largest properties in the RHA portfolio, consisting entirely of two-story-walkup townhome-style buildings. Fairgrounds originally contained 210 public housing family units. The property is located in a low-income neighborhood with marginal access to employment opportunities and quality schools, and active railroad tracks cross the site. In 2012 Fairgrounds Valley was awarded a multi-phase RAD conversion and in 2017 RHA finished the first phase of the planned RAD conversion (The Grove) removed 47 units of public housing from Fairgrounds, the property now contains 163 public housing units in a mix of two-, three-, four-, five-, and six-bedroom apartments. Following the development of The Grove, which was accompanied by a considerable amount of political and community opposition, the remaining phases as well as the relationship between RHA and the developer, Gorman and Company, were suspended due to a variety of issues, including inadequate financing. Phase 2 and 3 were not completed and expired.
RHA has been pursuing the redevelopment of Fairgrounds since August 2013, acknowledging that the property is no longer providing adequate housing due to its physical condition, location, and concentration of public housing units. Considering the property’s substandard physical condition and performance, a redevelopment plan has been created to push forward on the remaining 163 units of public housing at Fairgrounds.
RHA is seeking to submit a Section 18 application to HUD for the demolition of the Fairgrounds Valley Property based upon property obsolescence. Once RHA is able to submit the completed Section 18 application and it is approved by HUD we are able to acquire the Tenant Protection Voucher’s to relocate the tenants of Fairgrounds Valley. RHA has begun to look at areas in Rockford where they have opportunities for unit replacement and resident relocation. These areas are then considered, stressing the importance of basing relocation decisions on the resident’s feedback and surveys. RHA is currently considering the location of these replacement units but also looking at opportunity scores within the Rockford community neighborhoods.
The Rockford Housing Authority and its Economic Development Partner, Bridge Rockford Alliance Inc., announce the Scattered Sight Initiative to acquire at-risk homes in Rockford’s Opportunity Zones. The intention and vision of this enterprise are to return properties to productive use for community residents. These quality, affordable homes, once restored, will provide decent, safe, sanitary dwellings that are in good repair for our community residents.
The Rockford Housing Authority’s Leadership Team understands that investing in homes in our community is an effective way to combat the ongoing effects of the housing crisis and assist with neighborhood revitalization efforts. This Scattered Sight Initiative is a ‘Best Practices’ for Quality Affordable Housing Community Rehab. The Initiative will work with local governments and community non-profit organizations to offer an opportunity that addresses vacant residential properties and the neighborhood blight that usually follows, which will benefit our community as a whole. “These properties are not beyond repair, even though they may have negatively impacted neighboring residences, but homes which require badly needed repairs, and for a number of reasons, have not had them,” states Laura Snyder RHA, CEO
The Initiative will allow the Rockford Housing Authority and Bridge Rockford to make necessary repairs and accessibility improvements while improving the quality of single-family housing. “This direction will also help to create vibrancy in neighborhoods throughout the greater Rockford area in the Opportunity Zones, as well as supporting other neighborhoods beyond these identified sectors. We believe, based on all the available data and current studies, that these homes, once improved and completely renovated, will attract further community investment. It will also preserve existing affordable housing stock that is often in near city centers. These homes are near community amenities such as schools, parks, medical facilities, shopping, jobs, and public transportation,” concludes Ms. Synder.
For the acquisition of these homes, the purchase values must be realistic and consist of properties, typically neglected or underutilized, that are candidates for rehab. The Rockford Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy was adopted community-wide in early 2020. The Scattered Sight Initiative will follow the guidelines of this neighborhood revitalization strategy, which balances the use of real estate market analysis with a qualitative approach that incorporates community assets, stakeholder input, and shared values. It draws on national best practices in community revitalization to suggest solutions for all Rockford’s neighborhoods.
Goals For Our Community Residents of the Scattered Sight Initiative:
Scattered Sites RAD – RHA currently self-manages 292 scattered site units located across the city. These units are predominantly single-family and duplex properties in the public housing program. By dispersing units across the city and placing the majority of scattered site units in areas with higher opportunity scores, RHA is able to integrate low-income housing into higher-income neighborhoods with predominantly single-family housing stock. This deconcentration has been balanced by an active management strategy that has been successful in maintaining these units in a timely manner, resulting in high resident satisfaction. All units will undergo rehabilitation and modernization providing residents with energy efficient modernized housing units.
Brewington Oaks Redevelopment – The Brewington Oaks site currently has two fourteen story towers which provided housing to 418 residents. The property is now vacant. It is located adjacent to the Rockford River and is included in the long-term city of Rockford Riverwalk development area. Overall, the site contains 5.35 acres. In total, the two buildings contain 233,281 square feet.
In 2017 the Rockford Housing Authority was approved a Section 18 application to demolish the two towers. In keeping with its mandate to provide efficient and effective services, the RHA is soliciting bids from qualified, licensed and insured entities to provide their vision on the redevelopment of Brewington Oaks.