March 01, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin, Kelly Announce $350,000 to Kickstart Revitalization of Affordable Housing Communities in Chicago Heights


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced a $350,000 Choice Neighborhoods planning grant to help Chicago Heights revitalize affordable housing facilities and address other community challenges and needs. Today’s funding, awarded jointly to Chicago Heights and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), comes through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“This funding will help grow the economy, create jobs, expand affordable housing options and develop more livable neighborhoods in Chicago Heights—and it’s an important investment in the strength of our state’s economy and the future of our working families,” said Duckworth. “I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin to ensure all Illinoisans have access to safe and affordable housing options as part of our efforts to help revitalize neighborhoods all across our state.”

“This federal investment will enable the City of Chicago Heights and the Housing Authority of Cook County to establish comprehensive plans to improve affordable housing in the area and create more opportunities for residents,” said Durbin. “Senator Duckworth and I are proud to fight for this critical funding that gives local agencies the ability to help people in their communities who need it most.”

“I’m proud to join Senators Duckworth and Durbin in announcing this critical funding which will grow our local economy, create jobs, expand affordable housing and further empower families living in Chicago Heights,” said Kelly. “As a Member of Congress, one of my most important goals is bringing federal resources and investment to our community.”

Chicago Heights and the Housing Authority of Cook County will use this Choice Neighborhoods planning grant to create a “Transformation Plan” focused on transforming the city’s Downtown/East Side neighborhood through the replacement of outdated apartments at Sunrise Manor and investments that promote economic, employment, and educational opportunities for residents. The Downtown/ East Side neighborhood struggles with a 55 percent poverty rate, 26 percent vacancy rate and a crime rate that is nearly three times that of the City as a whole—but the neighborhood also has strengths that the city hopes to build from, such as recently cleared derelict buildings by the HACC, a PACE Suburban transit bus transfer facility, a strong industrial base, and ongoing efforts to improve the community’s business climate.

Key partners in this project include the Cook County Department of Planning and Development, Elementary School District 170, Prairie State College, Bloom Township High School District 206, Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness Services, and the Chicago Heights Park District among others.

Receiving a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant is one of the first hurdles local governments can clear in order to fully take advantage of the federal government’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which was one President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to support urban renewal and revitalization. Planning grants help enable local communities to bring together local leaders, residents and stakeholders to create a community’s “Transformation Plan” under their planning grant. Community leaders may then apply for Choice Neighborhoods implementation grants, which are often major federal investments that help enable local leaders to carry out their desired housing and neighborhood improvements, such as restoring public or assisted housing, managing vacant property, investing in well-managed mixed-income housing or encouraging public and private investments, among other community improvement projects.