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Taft Homes redevelopment takes center stage at council meeting

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taft homes redevelopment

Improvements to public housing took center stage at the Peoria City Council Meeting Tuesday night.

Many members highlighting the necessity for action after a report from ProPublica found Peoria's Taft Homes failed three of its five most recent inspections by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD currently lists Taft Homes' status as "troubled", but the 216 unit public housing facility hopes they can change that with a projected $17-20 million redevelopment plan.

Courtesy: Peoria Housing Authority

Improvements to Taft Homes have had many stops and starts over the years.

Tuesday the current CEO of the Peoria Housing Authority, Jackie Newman, told the city council that their improvement plans call for a complete demolition.

A Wisconsin based developer, Bear Development, will oversee the project.

Demolition means tenants living there will have to move temporarily, but Newman emphasized that residents will not be paying their own relocation costs.

"We will try to relocate our families within those developments that we currently own and operate and then the others who got a tenant protection voucher we have a team of individuals at the housing authority that will walk the families through that process." said Newman

At the meeting the council approved a resolution 8-2 in support of the PHA to move forward in applying for a special type of tax credit that could pay for most of the project.

The state controls the tax credit program and could make a final decision on the application this summer.

Some council members, like Beth Jensen, said they needed more public input before moving forward.

"So I won't support this resolution tonight, that doesn't mean that I'm not supportive of the project, but I would like to get more input from the surrounding neighborhoods and other residents and businesses on how this plan should be developed." said Jensen

The building designs are not set in stone yet. Many of the logistics of moving tenants out are also still unknown.

Courtesy: Peoria Housing Authority

The room was tense at times. Grayeb said the council is ultimately to blame for many of the problems that Taft has faced over the years because they approve of the management.

Newman said she was handed a lot when she started nearly two years ago and they are chipping away at problems the best they can.

Kaitlin Pearson

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