Three sites are possible locations for Taft Home residents

By WEEK Reporter

March 9, 2014 Updated Mar 10, 2014 at 10:41 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- An empty lot at the end of Brandywine Drive is the most recent site proposed by the Peoria Housing Authority to house current Taft Homes residents.

"This property seems to fit what we are looking for," Peoria Housing Authority CEO Brenda Coates said. "You know grocery shopping close by, certainly public transportation."

The location off Brandywine Drive is part of a $50 million plan to relocate some or all of the 216 public housing units at the Taft Homes off Eaten Street.

The goal is to deconcentrate poverty.

Back in May of last year, the Peoria Housing Authority hired a consultant to begin the process of deciding what to do with the over 60 year old property.

Now they are eyeing Phase one, moving 80 units from the current location to proposed sites in other areas of the city.

Of the three proposed sites, the closest to the original location is in the 900 block of NE Jefferson.

The other two sites are in the 2900 block of West Lake and the 3700 block of Brandywine Drive.

"It doesn't mean that we need to relocate all the residents out of areas that are concentrated in poverty but we do need to move some of those residents to other areas of opportunity," said Coates.

At a community meeting last month, neighbors in the West Lake neighborhood expressed concerns of possible increased crime and decreased property values.

"There is no data that is brought to us that basically says if you relocate low income individuals to a neighborhood in a mixed income development that crime will automatically increase," said Coates.

One neighbor I spoke to at the Brandywine site said her main concern was increased traffic on the narrow road.

A community meeting is scheduled Monday night for those residents.

As for the Taft Homes residents not included in Phase one, their future remains uncertain.

"There could be some housing on the site. It could be mixed used. It could be all commercial," said Coates.

The Board hopes to have a plan to apply for funding by the end of the month.