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January 11, 2012


ROCKFORD, IL – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Midwest Regional Administrator Antonio R. Riley joined Rockford Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey and Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) Executive Director John Cressman today to announce that RHA will receive a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant. Rockford is one of 13 cities nationwide receiving this funding to begin grassroots efforts to revitalize Fairgrounds Valley public housing and the entire Fairgrounds/Ellis Heights neighborhood. A comprehensive plan will be developed and transform this distressed neighborhood.

“All across the country, local planners are serious about rolling up their sleeves to transform distressed neighborhoods into choice neighborhoods,” said Antonio R. Riley of HUD. “This community can now begin the comprehensive planning needed to turn the distressed housing at Fairgrounds Valley and the entire Ellis Heights neighborhood– a long-neglected neighborhood – into a viable and sustainable mixed-income community that supports positive outcomes for families.”

The Rockford Housing Authority applied for this funding with a group of key stakeholders to develop a transformation plan for Fairgrounds Valley and the surrounding neighborhood using a community-based planning process. Project partners include The City of Rockford,Crusader Community Health, Rockford Metropolitan Area for Planning, Alignment Rockford, Rock Valley College, Rockford College, the City of Rockford Head Start, the YWCA, the Stateʼs Regional Board of Education, and the Rockford Area Arts Council.

“This grant is one more tool that enables RHA to accomplish our organizational mission to be a catalyst for positive change in the neighborhoods where our RHA residents live,” says John Cressman, RHA Executive Director. Cressman continues, “We and our project partners envision an education-themed, mixedincome with a family friendly, transit-oriented environment that offers good schools, high quality services and a variety of employment and cultural opportunities to transform the area from a decaying urban core to a vital, vibrant and welcoming community.

The education theme of the project is a completely new approach to development, and is an opportunity for Rockford to position itself as a community that is serious about providing quality education.” RHA has engaged Camiros, Ltd. as the planning coordinator for this effort. Camiros is a nationally recognized planning firm that has undertaken comparable Choice Neighborhood assignments in more than 40 distressed urban neighborhoods in the cities of Chicago,Milwaukee, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark, among others.

HUD received 71 submissions for FY 2011 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants from communities across the U.S. Successful applicants demonstrated their intent to transform neighborhoods while leveraging outside investments and other federal dollars to plan for high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services. HUD is focused on directing resources to address three core goals – housing, people and neighborhoods.

The grant announced today will enable Rockford to build the capacity needed to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation for Fairgrounds/Ellis Heights and create a choice neighborhood. Over the next 18 months, RHA and its partners will engage with neighborhood residents and the community to create a comprehensive Transformation Plan, or road map for change.

About Rockford Housing Authority
Rockford Housing Authority is an organization in a state of great change as it recreates itself and changes the way it supports the Rockford community. RHA strives to be a catalyst for positive change in the neighborhoods where its residents live. RHA operates under the belief that a quality home is the foundation of society and community and that a quality home life provides hope and the pathway to achieving the goals of its residents. RHA provides housing to low-income families, elderly and disabled citizens of Rockford.

About U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUDʼs mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.

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