The City of Rockford is the second largest city in the state, located in north central Illinois. Historically, Rockford was a center of small manufacturing but is increasingly becoming a service based economy. The loss of industrial jobs during the 80's caused Rockford to become a creative force in responding to the resulting unemployment crisis and urban decay.
The City of Rockford's Consolidated Plan is a creation of its "Blueprint for Rockford's Future 2004" planning process. The Blueprint contains the work of over 350 individuals representing public agencies and private businesses who are defining needs and resources in seven subject areas: public safety, health, public services, education and training, industrial and neighborhood small business development, housing, and arts and recreation.
Rockford will be using $3,762,000 in CDBG, HOME and ESG funds for a mixture of housing and commercial rehabilitation, economic development, public services, and assistance for homeless families and individuals.
Aside from general "Blueprint" meetings, two public hearings were specifically held for the Consolidated Plan. The first meeting was to discuss an assessment of the last four years of investments, to explain eligible activities, to state the anticipated level of funding and to receive comments. The second hearing was to present draft plan and explain the continuation of the process, including the thirty day comment period.
Additionally, the Departments staffs numerous permanent City lay boards and
commissions, including the Homeless Task Force, Fair housing Board, Historic
Preservation Commission, Citizen Participation Committee, Small Business Loan
Housing Coalition, the Private Industry Council and other non-City, but service
related entities. These activities facilitated the coordination process.
Finally, staff of the Rockford Housing Authority were involved with City staff
in planning meetings designed to produce the final Consolidated Plan.
The population of the City of Rockford is 143,000. Of the major racial/ethnic groups residing in Rockford, 14% of the population is black, 4% of the population is Hispanic, 1% of the population is Asian/Pacific Islander and 76.8% of the population is white.
The median income for the City of Rockford is 51.3% and the low income population is approximately 63.29%. Rockford's largest and most depressed low income areas are to be found on the west side of the City.
Rockford has 4 major low income target areas. St. Paul's place is bounded east and west by Church Street and Kilburn Avenue. West State and Bruce Streets are the southern and northern boundaries, respectively.
The South Main target area is bounded on the east by Rock Street and on the west by West Street, with Kent Street on the North and Marchesano Drive as the southern boundary.
The West State target area is bounded by Elm and School Streets as the southern and northern boundaries, with Kent Creek to the east, and Central Avenue to the west.
The Seventh Street TIF is a Tax increment Financing District bounded by
Kishwaukee/9th Street to the west and east, with northern and southern
boundaries being irregular, but including East State and 9th Avenue.
Rockford's economy is strongly based in manufacturing. While a major portion of the Rockford MSA's labor force is still employed in manufacturing -- 31% in 1992 -- an increasing portion of workers are to be found in the private service sector. The service sector accounted for 26% of local jobs in 1992. Traditionally such service sector jobs have paid less than those in manufacturing, offering fewer benefits. Unemployment in Rockford continues to run higher than that of both Illinois and the U.S. In Spring of 1993, unemployment rates for the Rockford MSA were over a point above those for Illinois and two points above those for the U.S.
As indicated consistently throughout the Consolidated Plan substandard housing for both renters and homeowners is the greatest housing need which must be addressed.
Of all Rockford owner occupied households, 15.1% have housing problems. In the minority community, the comparable figure is 28.6%. Affordability is the major housing problem accounted for in these percentages. The Consolidated Plan projects that over the next five years the incidence of elderly and low income minority homeowners will increase, resulting in a greater cost burden problem as the trend of home prices is increasing at double the rates of previous years.
The housing problems experienced by renters are even greater. Of the 21,453 renter households 26.4% were low income and 18.4% were extremely low income. Given the waiting list for public housing and the inability of current transitional housing providers to find permanent housing fore those at extremely low income, the housing conditions and severe rent burden experienced at all family types and sizes and racial/ethnic communities will continue to worsen.
Rockford's total inventory of year round housing units is 58,800. Approximately 60% of the units are for ownership and 40% are rental units. 957 units of assisted housing units are included in the inventory.
Approximately 15% of the owner occupied housing stock appears to have some housing problems and may be considered substandard. Over 96% of this substandard housing stock may be considered suitable for rehabilitation. Only 307 (.93%) of the units were vacant and for sale at the time of the 1990 Census.
6.5% of the total rental units at the time of the Census were available for rent. In terms of condition, it appears that approximately 40% of the rental units may not be in standard condition. 6% of the total rental units are not suitable for rehabilitation.
The housing affordability research done by the National Homebuilders Association each quarter indicates that Rockford is in the top ten of the larger cities deemed most affordable. However, the very low income are the least served. Of the 760 owner occupied 0-1 bedroom units, 22% would be affordable to families earning 0-30% of median income and 55% would be affordable to families earning 0-50% of median income.
Since homeownership rates are declining and median prices of homes are currently rising faster than wages, it is likely that the market will be even worse for very low income first- time homebuyers than it was in 1990.
Small related renter households suffer the highest cost burden in the City of Rockford. 97% of small related households pay in excess of 30% of their incomes for rent while 56% of these households pay in excess of 50% of their incomes for rent. Unless there are new rental units produced renting at $250 per month or less or new rental certificates available, the severe rent burden experienced at all family types and sizes and minority and non-minority households will continue to worsen.
In 1985, the Rockford Coalition for the homeless identified 1,465 homeless persons in Rockford. The Mayor's Task Force on Homeless, formed in 1987, estimated that at any given time, Rockford's homeless population might be as many as 4,500 within a calendar year. Unfortunately, there has not been a practical method developed to conduct an accurate annual unduplicated count of the homeless in this community.
Annual prevalence of the homeless is the number of people who have been homeless at some point during the year. The best estimates that could be obtained were those provided by Crusader Center Clinic Association which operates a Primary Health Care for the Homeless Program (CPHCH).
Their most recent records show 2,289 non-duplicated clients served in 1992. 44% of these homeless clients were women and 66% were men. 19% were adults 20 years of age or older and in families, 14% were children 0-19 years of age in families and 18% were unknown/unreported. 49% were unattached adults. The unknown/unreported homeless consisted of runaway and/or homeless youth, rural homeless, and young persons age 15-19, head of household. 47% of the homeless were white and 36% were black. Health problems found most frequently among the homeless population included substance abuse, hypertension, acute infections, chronic respiratory conditions and mental health problems.
Single adult homeless men and women need dental and medical treatment, mental health treatment and counseling, substance abuse treatment and counseling, employment training and counseling, and daily living skills training which include budgeting, housekeeping, socialization and nutrition. There is a need for safe, decent, affordable housing, continued support for emergency housing, increased SROs for men and women, transitional housing, the development of a central referral system, and further information and direction on the "service resistant".
Within the City of Rockford, the Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) has fourteen developments with a total of 2,087 public housing units. The RHA had a total of 105 vacant units as of May 1, 1993.
Two separate applicant waiting lists are maintained by the Rockford Housing Authority; one for Section 8 units and the other for public housing units. Applications for Section 8 Rental Certificates and Vouchers were last taken in March, 1991. The waiting list was closed thereafter. In the April of 1993, there were 1,511 applicants on the waiting list for Section 8 Rental Certificates and Vouchers. The waiting list for public housing units as of April 30, 1993 contained 407 applications.
The major barriers to increasing homeownership in Rockford, according to those in the housing industry, are the lack of a down payment and the lack of good credit histories. Both will be addressed in the City's strategy to increase homeownership and upgrade neighborhoods. A portion of the Community Development Block Grant is used for a down payment program and a course developed by the Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition that will include credit counseling assistance.
Lumber prices have emerged as a major problem for builders having an effect on affordable housing starts and affordability. Lumber prices increased 85% from October of 1992 to the summer of 1993, which translated into a $2,000 increase for a 1,000 sq. ft. $62,000 home. The rapid price increase was due primarily to an increasing demand for lumber by the home builder industry, the decline of timber because of environmental issues, and panic buying. As result, programs such as West Side Alive! were forced to realize an increase of $2,500 per home.
The City of Rockford has completed an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. The Consolidated Plan contains maps reflecting the percentages of minority households in census tracts throughout the City. Nearly half of the City's census tracts have at least a 10% minority population. Rockford's African-American population continues to be concentrated on the west side and in the south central part of the City. Many of the same tracts on the west side have relatively large concentrations of Hispanic residents. Rockford's Asian population is concentrated solely on the east side of the City.
Additional studies including a credit needs analysis for housing (and small business), will be conducted in 1995. The Fair Housing Board will continue to review discrimination complaints as well as educate the public on their fair housing rights throughout the period of this consolidated plan.
Approximately 30,401 units in Rockford have lead based paint somewhere in the unit with approximately 14,656 units at the greatest risk because of the age of the unit and the probable need for repairs. In researching housing built from 1950-1978, Rockford Housing Authority found that 40-60% of the units had some lead-based paint which may or may not be a hazard. An estimated 26,372 single family and 16,036 multifamily units contain lead-based paint.
Families living in poverty were found to have higher rates of lead poisoning than residents of moderate to high incomes. In Rockford, approximately 25,934 housing units are occupied by households with a total annual income of less than $30,000.
The presence of young children in a home with lead-based paint increased the likelihood of lead poisoning. It is estimated that 11,127 children under the age of 7 live in housing units with lead-based paint. The Winnebago County Health Department identified 27 housing units in which a child has been identified as lead poisoned.
In assessing community development needs, the collective needs of Rockford's main target areas were considered. These areas include:
These areas continue to have high unemployment rates, poverty, structure and infrastructure deterioration, a high incidence of vacant and boarded properties and ill-maintained vacant lots. They also lack needed public and business services. The areas lie along major entryways to the City and project less than positive images about the City's revitalization efforts.
The City of Rockford as a jurisdiction will continue to promote intergovernmental and institutional structure cooperation in the delivery of housing services and programs throughout all sectors (public, private, nonprofit) and at all levels of government (city, state and federal). The Community Development Department and the Rockford Housing Authority will continue to be the key players in the coordination of housing service delivery.
The overall coordination of housing related activities has been further strengthened by the development of key relationships among various organizations. The Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition, primarily made up of housing nonprofits, was formed to allow organizations associated with housing the opportunity to come together to coordinate the planning and development of strategies to improve Rockford's neighborhoods and increase the availability of affordable decent housing for lower income people.
The Mayor's Homeless Task Force, made up of all local service agencies, mental health agencies, and housing officials will continue identifying needs for emergency, transitional and special needs permanent housing, seeking funding and operating programs to meet those needs.
All homeownership programs are assisted by the Rockford Homestead Board,
staffed by the Community Development Department and made up of volunteers who
have specific knowledge and expertise in some aspect of housing development.
Also, the Rockford Area Association of Realtors provide insight as to how to
better provide homeownership opportunities for lower income people.
The City of Rockford's mission is to develop quality programs and projects which help meet low income individual and neighborhood needs, foster community-wide partnerships, and build diverse neighborhoods and capacity from within.
The City of Rockford's housing and community development objectives are summarized in 10 goals. These goals primarily address the areas of affordable housing, economic development, and crime reduction in Rockford's target areas. The intentions of these goals are the following: to increase the supply of affordable housing; create economic investment opportunities to attract revenue, services and jobs; and to reduce barriers to development in the target areas.
Priority needs for renters and homeowners
For both renters and homeowners, the elimination of substandard housing is the highest priority. This priority will be addressed through financial assistance for rehabilitating owner and rental units occupied by low income residents. The City of Rockford's Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy for Fiscal Year 1994-1998 determined that 8,856 renter and 4,904 owner occupied units are in substandard condition, most of which are suitable for rehabilitation.
The availability of rental units for lower income residents is also a priority need. The numbers of elderly and frail elderly, in particular, need housing and supportive services at a rapidly increasing rate. This is also intended to be addressed through housing rehabilitation, as well as financial assistance to housing nonprofits that provide housing rehabilitation and services to these populations in specified targeted areas.
A high priority has been designated for cost burden to renters with incomes at 0-50% of median income and for small related families which are cost burdened at greater than 30% and 50% of their incomes. Owner occupants at incomes from 0-80% of median income with cost burdens greater than 30% and 50% of their incomes have been given a medium priority need level. Owner occupants in this category are in imminent danger of losing their homes and possibly becoming homeless. A medium priority has also been given to small family renter households at 51-80% of median income and cost burdened at greater than 30% and 50% of their incomes.
Priority needs for homeless people
The City of Rockford will use the Continuum of Care approach when developing a system for addressing homelessness and the priority need of homeless individuals and families. The process will be overseen by the Homeless Task Force which includes members representing nonprofits, local government officials, and the private sector. It will be expanded over the next year to include homeless and formerly homeless persons. A high priority has been given to the homeless needs of emergency shelter transition housing for families, individuals and persons with special needs and permanent supportive housing for persons with special needs. Also given a high priority is permanent supportive housing for families and individuals.
Public facilities priorities
Creation of youth centers; making full use of existing neighborhood facilities to create a strong, ongoing connection between schools and accompanying neighborhood centers; creation of child care centers as part of economic development initiatives and for infant care; and creation of more drug treatment centers and a halfway house for returning convicts.
Better access to downtown
Improve case coordination between agencies and improve social service system's ability to adapt to changing needs in a timely manner and ability to take advantage of available technologies to assist clients.
Other Public Service Needs
Rockford spells out public service needs for various client groups such as seniors, youth, disabled, family, transportation, substance abuse, family and employment.
The City of Rockford, in conjunction with other organizations, will take on the following initiatives for reducing the number of households with incomes below the poverty level:
The Rockford Housing Authority, in conjunction with the City and 20 support agencies developed a Family Self Sufficiency Program for public housing residents. The Rock River Private Industry Council provides employment programs for high school students and young adults and another program for older adults who are employed in nonprofit agencies. The Head Start program is made available to low-income preschool children for educational skills and social classroom skills. And Rockford's Human Services Department offers the Small Business Loan Program, the Scholarship Program and the Nutrition Program.
Rockford's primary Federal resources include CDBG, HOME, HOPE 3, Emergency Shelter Grants, Shelter Plus Care, and Youthbuild. Local and state programs include Tax increment Financing, West Side Alive!, Rockford Small Business Loan Program and the Business Development Fund.
The City of Rockford as a jurisdiction will continue to promote
intergovernmental and institutional structure cooperation in the delivery of
housing services and programs throughout all sectors (public, private,
nonprofit) and at all levels (city, state, Federal). The Community Development
Department and the Rockford Housing Authority will continue to be the key
players in the coordination of housing service delivery. This coordination also
exists with local governments of neighboring municipalities as well as with
state and Federal agencies associated with/in management of various housing
Rockford outlines the proposed use of approximately $3.7 million in CDBG, HOME and Emergency Shelter Grants funds, in addition to program income and carryover funding. These funds will be spent in the areas of Neighborhood Development which includes housing, public service, public facilities and homeless programs totaling $3,806,956 and economic development programs totalling $1,238,106. New funds of $2,996,500 will be invested in Neighborhood Development programs and $701,500 in new funds will be invested in economic development.
Most housing and economic development programs are invested in Rockford's four targeted areas. Some housing rehabilitation programs and most homeless programs and public services serve low and moderate income clients throughout the City. Citywide programs include such activities as Minimum Property Standards, RAMP, Lead Based Paint Abatement and PHASE.
Rockford intends to invest its housing funds in 247 projects such as lead based paint, PHASE, RAMP, acquisition and demolition and other projects and to rehabilitate 137 units.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects; in addition: a table provides information about the project(s).
MAP 6 depicts neighborhood streets, low-moderate income areas, and proposed HUD funded projects, as described in the table under MAP 5.