Changes Coming for Taft Homes, Could Mean Less Public Housing

By Audrey Williams

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- Directors at the Peoria Housing Authority say one thing is for certain: changes will come to Taft Homes. How or when those changes will come, and what it will mean for those who depend on public housing are still up for debate.

"The housing that's located at Taft Homes is about 60-years-old and has definitely outlived its useful life," says PHA Chairman Richard Zuckerman, "And we want to be able to provide the best housing we can for our residents, wherever it may be located."

Zuckerman knows something has to be done with Taft Homes. The PHA hired Brinshore Michaels Development to do a complete analysis of the area and residents and put together one feasible option for the complex.

Tuesday afternoon they presented a 10 year mixed use and mixed residential plan. It includes 227 units, ranging from market-rate, to affordable, to public housing.

"A good deal of residential, but also included some retail and some connection to the riverfront as well as a connection to the neighborhood," says Rich Sciortino, President of Brinshore Development.

But others say this new plan creates a new problem. Currently, Taft Homes is made up of a little more than 200 units, all of them public housing. Under this proposal, only 32 percent of the complex, or 88 units, would be public.

Those who can't afford to move up, would have to move out. The question is where?

Zuckerman says PHA has an obligation to its residents, and it's too soon to worry.

"We're going to look at all possibilities at how this property can be used including using it to trade for other properties, developing it in other manners," says Zuckerman.

Also on the group's to-do list: laying out a time-line for the project and a plan to pay for it.

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