Having a home can make the world go round.
For raising a family, going to school and having a job, housing is essential. But an increasing number of people don’t have access to it.
The overwhelming increase in demand for affordable housing has placed more than 1,000 people on a waiting list for a unit with the Moline Housing Authority.
“In a civilized and advanced country as America, housing should be a right,” said John Afoun, executive director/CEO of the Housing Authority.
After all, he said, society urges citizens to be law-abiding, healthy, employed and useful. But those things are nearly impossible to achieve without a stable place to live.
The housing authority manages and provides affordable, public housing to low and middle-income families that qualify under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s standards. There are two program waiting lists in Moline, including conventional public housing and Section 8, which is a housing-choice voucher program.
For conventional public housing, Afoun said, 1,002 people are waiting and another 139 are standing by for Section 8 availability.
“They are entitled to apply for housing,” Afoun said. “However, I still let them know that the demand and supply equilibrium is not in their favor, because we have a long waiting list.”
A lack of funding is the main challenge when it comes to meeting the increased demand, he said. The source of the Authority’s income is rent and federal programs. Their annual operating budget is around $2 million, along with another $3 million in federal assistance for capital-improvement projects. The Authority is tax-exempt.
In its three housing developments, Moline’s Housing Authority manages about 500 units.
They broke ground in November on additional affordable apartments adjacent to their Spring Valley office at 41st Street and 12th Avenue. The apartments, Spring Valley Village, will have 16 units near the intersection and duplexes in a nearby lot that previously was a dental office.
The cost of the development is $6.7 million, with funding from a Permanent Support Housing Development program grant and gap financing from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The estimated timeline for completion is December 2024.
Spring Brook Courts is a family development with 184 units, consisting of one-to-two-story duplexes and row houses. The neighboring Spring Valley is a senior and singles development with 182 one-story units.
Hillside Heights also is a senior and singles development with 120 units that are in a nine-story high-rise building at 825 17th St.
Tenants are welcome to stay as long as they need but must be earning at least 30% or less of the median income as determined by the federal government. Once someone is making more than the determined income, they are asked to find other housing to make room for others.
But in a city that is landlocked and in need of housing, getting creative and being collaborative are key to Moline in addressing housing demands.
To do so, the city must partner with nonprofits and convert empty buildings, such as hotels and office space, said Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati.
“I think it’s really key to use partnerships with this work, because we can’t do all the work ourselves,” she said.
The city also is in discussion about expanding housing options downtown, including the 5th Avenue corridor and on property closer to the river, such as the former KONE campus. Annexing land south of the Rock River has been a goal for many years — also in the name of increased housing.
“For larger, affordable housing complexes, that is another kind of conversation with the city and potential developers,” Rayapati said.
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January 28, 2023 at 08:15AM