RHA Gets $300 Thousand Grant to Revamp Ellis Heights Neighborhood

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Perception is often reality, so to help us perceive a local neighborhood as a safe place to live the federal government is pumping 300 thousand dollars into revamping streets and homes in the Ellis Heights neighborhood.

The Rockford housing authority announced the neighborhood, which includes Fairgrounds Housing Development, will get a full makeover in the next few years. Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were at Fairgrounds today to announce the grant. Rockford is one of thirteen communities to get the money. Seventy-one applied.

Right now there's a lot of talking: that's because the planning stage of this project is supposed to last nearly a year and a half and during that process RHA will be asking community members what they want their neighborhood to eventually look like.

Housing at Fairgrounds will be completely torn down and rebuilt to some extent. The new complex will have an education theme. Homes will be designed to make it easier for kids to study. Private homes in the neighborhood will also get help, transforming vacant lots and foreclosed homes. Residents say there's a lot they would like to see changed.

Resident Reanna Crowder said, "I would like my community to be better that what it is have for teenagers to get out of trouble out here and for kids to have safer places to play."

Starting next month, community organizers will be out knocking on doors to encourage people to come to meetings and tell the RHA what they want in a neighborhood--whether it's more bus stops, more playgrounds, or new businesses.

RHA says one goal is to make fairgrounds and the surrounding area look more like a regular neighborhood, lower crime, and make sure neighborhood kids are graduating from high school--that will require much more than just brick and mortar.

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