The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 18, 2012

Communities join Fulton to improve area's housing

By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer

MORRISON, Ill. — Fulton city officials have joined Sterling and Morrison in an effort to improve the housing market across the area.

Aldermen and mayors from all three city councils met Tuesday to join the Northwest Illinois Housing Coalition.

The new program to address housing needs was approved unanimously by all three city councils.

“This is truly one of those programs that works really well,” Sterling Mayor Skip Lee said. “It sounds too good to be true. It’s a phenomenal program.”

The three communities will join with Rock Island through Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation to benefit from this program.

These communities will receive benefits from the program free of charge through the State of Illinois Attorney General’s Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement. Rock Island Renaissance President Brian Hollenback presented information on the project at the meeting.

“I hope once concluded, you will see the benefits and impact it can have on a re-gion,” Hol-len-back said. “This is our best opportunity as a region.”

Members of the coalition will use funds from the settlement to strategically redevelop and revitalize communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

Over the past 2 1⁄2 years the consortium has worked to help stabilize and redevelop communities in northwest Illinois.

Rock Island has leveraged more than $160 million through their projects and welcomed 556 homebuyers to Rock Island to date.

“There is a direct impact in the community,” Hollenback said. “Every dollar invested in housing yields two dollars.”

More than $20 million has been requested for the coalition. Fulton will receive $3 million, while Morrison and Sterling will receive $750,000 and $2 million, respectively.

The project for Fulton will focus on the development of more residential and commercial enterprises by removing blight and workforce housing. Rock Island Renaissance will submit the proposal for the project on Friday.

“We become stronger because we are able to team up with Rock Island,” Fulton City Administrator Randy Balk said.

And with the possibility of an influx of new residents from the sale of the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government, this could be exactly what the community needs, city officials say.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time,” Balk said. “Benefits could be good at this particular time.”