Local and state elected officials gathered outside a high rise in Peoria, where a yellow “Now Leasing” sign hangs.
US Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth and Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis were among those who cut ribbon on the renovated Glen Oaks high rise on Main Street. The Section 8 project now offers 171 residential units for seniors and the disabled. The building formerly known as "Glen Oak Towers" previously had 168 aging units, and its owners were looking to sell the building before the renovations.
Developer Scott Canal says the property was scraping by on a one-year Housing and Urban Development subsidy contract.
“So that means they only had funding for one year at a time. Neither the owners nor any of the low income tenants had any guarantee of what the next year might bring," Canel said. "Now, look at Glen Oaks today.”
The project has a 20 year Section 8 contract. The $15 million rehab includes energy-efficient building upgrades as well as three first-floor units, designed for disabled veterans.
The project comes as communities across the country, including Peoria, face a shortage in affordable housing options. Sen. Dick Durbin says that forces families into difficult choices, like delaying payments or moving into shelters.
“Finding safe, affordable housing for families, particularly working families and disabled veterans, that’s got to be a priority in America," Durbin said. "So I supported this completely, or initially funded it.”
Durbin, a Democrat, says he will continue to fight for subsidized housing in Washington. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, a Republican, also spoke at the ribbon cutting. He calls it a step in the right direction. Ardis praised the public-private partnership between developers, State Farm and LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
LISC says the need is particularly acute for seniors in Peoria, where nearly half of seniors are unable to find apartments they can afford.