Winnebago County is in the midst of a renaissance. Every day our eyes are opened to new revitalization efforts sprouting up throughout the community. Now, there's another one to add to the list; the Washington Park Neighborhood Redevelopment.
Ground was broken on the site as city, county, state and federal leaders watched.
“I couldn't go to bed until 3 o'clock just knowing the different change and outlook I can give my children now," says Carlotta Thompson, president of the Resident Council Board for Champion Park.
The excitement beaming in Carlotta Thompson's eyes says it all. After four years of planning, dedication and perseverance, the Hope VI project is officially underway.
"This was the third application. We won it in 2003; $18.9 million. With that and other money we've received in grants, we're going to tear down the dilapidated housing, going to build empty lots and build new homes," says Fred Westcott of the Winnebago County Housing Authority.
They will build 156 new homes to be exact. The run-down Champion Park Apartments will be demolished to make way for new single family homes which will be developed by Champion Park partners.
"Hope VI is a competitive grant throughout the country and Rockford was in competition with Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, so when Winnebago County received this grant, it was a positive step," says Joseph Galvin of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"It's overall a $42 million project. Hope VI is a big part. The second largest funding is an allocation of tax credit from IHDA," says Jim Teeter of Champion Park Partners.
The project is a partnership that spans city, county, state and federal levels. The Hope VI grant has been a catalyst for additional funding from public and private sectors including a grant from the county for a new watermain for the neighborhood.
"It took us so long to get to this point of being rejected because we’re a small housing authority, but we stuck it out and we got it," says Thompson.
Carlotta Thompson represents an entire community that will benefit from this revitalization. New life and hope are being built on the Westside, setting the stage for increased economic development for the area.