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PEORIA (Nov. 1, 2016)—Ongoing work to address housing concerns in the River City took a big step forward today, as a $15 million rehab project officially opened its doors to low- income seniors and veterans.
It’s the first of a series of new and better housing efforts designed to spur investment in distressed neighborhoods and help residents stabilize their financial outlook, said Mike Higgins, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s (LISC) local Peoria program.
Glen Oaks, adjacent to the Methodist Medical Center campus, was built in the 1950s but needed significant redevelopment work to ensure it could remain affordable. Supporters also wanted to build several new apartments that would specifically target disabled military veterans, bringing the total number of units on site to 171.
“Housing is critical to the quality of life in our communities,” Higgins said. “In many places, it serves as an anchor for economic development and lays the foundation for progress on issues related to safety, education, and health,” he explained. “Glen Oaks is an example of the kind of work residents can expect to see in the months to come, as several additional projects get off the ground.”
The need is particularly acute for seniors in Peoria, nearly half of whom are considered “rent-burdened” and unable to find decent apartments within their means, noted Celia Smoot, LISC’s national housing director. “These are people who worked hard throughout their lives and contributed to their communities. And now, as they age, they can’t find a place to live that they can afford,” she said. “That’s not right, and we’re working to address it in Peoria and in other communities all over the country.”
It often takes a complicated mix of public and private financing to move these kinds of projects forward, she said. “That’s part of what makes it so difficult to deal with our national housing crisis.”
In the case of Glen Oaks, LISC worked with its affiliate, the National Equity Fund, and Bloomington-based State Farm to generate $5 million in loans and equity for the rehab effort. That capital financed modernized heating, cooling, and elevator systems—which, together, make the development more cost-efficient so it can keep rents below the marketrate for similar units. Redevelopment work also upgraded all the units at the mid-century structure and constructed three new apartments for veterans.
“State Farm is a proud supporter of LISC and its efforts to provide affordable housing. This renovation will help preserve affordable apartments for seniors and veterans for many years to come,” stated Ed Woods, director, philanthropy/HR, for State Farm.
The project work was led by The Canel Companies, a seasoned affordable housing developer, and benefited from significant support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In fact, HUD awarded Glen Oaks the first project-based rental assistance contract issued under “RAD 2”, the second round of the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. RAD makes it easier for the private market to finance low- income housing repairs and upgrades.
“The Canel Companies extends its thanks to the city of Peoria, the Tri-River Valley Development Authority, LISC, NEF, and State Farm for being perfect teammates in the completion of one of the most advanced, technically challenging HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration housing developments in the country,” said Scott Canel, Principal. “The Canel Companies is also proud that its additional financial contributions to the community have enabled Glen Oaks to provide three new state of the art housing units for Peoria’s handicapped veterans.”
Higgins applauded the remarkable work of Canel Companies to push this project forward, pointing to the firm’s deep commitment to building quality housing for people with special needs.
“Most cities and towns are losing affordable housing to deterioration and gentrification faster than they can replace it,” Higgins said. “We don’t want that to be our future. Glen Oaks is an example of another way forward.”
LISC equips struggling communities with the capital, program strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. It combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to achieve sustainable change in the communities it serves. Since 1980, LISC has invested $16 billion across the country to build or rehab 350,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 55 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit www.lisc.org.
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 83 million policies and accounts – nearly 81 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 35 on the 2016 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.