Over the past several months you may have noticed that residents of the Housing Authority of Joliet’s Des Plaines Gardens Homes public housing development have been moving out of the property. This is due to the Housing Authority of Joliet’s plans to demolish and redevelop the property into a rent to own community of choice, that will become known as Water’s Edge.
During the period 1954 through 1966, the Housing Authority developed 162 rental units within three public housing developments. These three public housing developments were eventually merged together to create what became know as Des Plaines Gardens Homes. This community consisted of one, two, three and four bedroom family rental units.
With the passing of time, buildings and critical infrastructure accumulate major repair, renovations and upgrade needs that must be completed in order to maintain a level of service and safety necessary to continue to provide affordable housing assistance. However, with limited availability of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) modernization and operating funds, Housing Authorities found themselves in a position of either attempting to maintain functionally obsolete buildings and infrastructure or identifying both HUD and non-HUD funds necessary to demolish and rebuild/redevelop properties. This is the current situation associated with Des Plaines Gardens Homes. The repairs, replacements, modernization and upgrade needs associated with 122 of the rental units within the Des Plaines Gardens Homes property far exceed reasonable redevelopment costs; therefore, it was only financially logical to demolish the property and rebuild/redevelop it into something more useful to the community.
In September 2015, the Housing Authority of Joliet received approval from HUD to demolish and redevelop the property into a desirable community of choice that will provide qualified renters with a path to homeownership. Through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the Housing Authority of Joliet secured $19 million dollars in tax credits to reinvest into the new property. This funding resource is a powerful tool to assist the Housing Authority of Joliet in preserving and improving public housing program properties and attempting to address the $26 billion dollar nation-wide backlog of deferred housing maintenance needs, repairs, and replacements.
As part of the property redevelopment process, the Housing Authority of Joliet provided each resident household with a housing choice voucher and access to mobility and relocation counselors who were brought on specifically to assist each household in identifying and overcoming barriers to household relocation and to connect with existing community services that are essential in establishing a stable household within a new community. They brought on specifically to assist each household in identifying and overcoming barriers to household relocation and to connect with existing community services that are essential in establishing a stable household within a new community. They also assisted households in identifying rental housing that is located within an “opportunity area.” An opportunity area is a geographical area (neighborhood) that has lower concentrations of poverty and subsidized housing and increased access to quality rental housing, transit options, jobs, and local schools. By electing to reside within an opportunity area, households can use their subsidy not just to pay rent but to improve their lives.
As a condition of relocating from the property, all households that received a housing choice voucher are allowed the first right of refusal to return to the redeveloped property and to participate in activities that will lead to eventual homeownership. As of March 2016, all 122 of the rental units identified for demolition and redevelopment have been vacated. At this point, it is anticipated that the demolition and redevelopment process will begin in May 2016 and will last for approximately an 18 month period (October 2017). During this period of transition, local area residents will notice a vast difference in the look and feel of the property. You are encouraged to periodically check our website for updated news and photos of the property as it undergoes demolition and redevelopment. In Spring 2017, we invite you to visit the Water’s Edge clubhouse and perhaps make arrangements with staff for a site tour of the new development. The Housing Authority of Joliet continues to remain committed to providing affordable housing options to residents of the City of Joliet and Will County community and slowly but surely, we remain committed to building communities of choice and opportunity, one brick at a time.