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Peoria mayor asks East Bluff residents to get involved in reducing violence

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali speaks to East Bluff residents at the East Bluff Community Center.
Camryn Cutinello
Peoria Mayor Rita Ali speaks to East Bluff residents at the East Bluff Community Center.

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali says the city is pushing forward on efforts to address root causes of violence in the city's East Bluff neighborhood.

During a Peoria County TRIAD event at the East Bluff Community Center Thursday morning, Ali asked the East Bluff’s senior citizens to become activists in their community.

She told a story about her grandmother, who started a neighborhood watch for her St. Louis block to clean up crime.

“They started working together, they started having weekly meetings and they started working with the police to shut down drug houses, to put up signs,” she said “And they formed a coalition and a group. And my grandmother did that from her 50s, all the way to the time that she was 80 years old and eventually came to live in Peoria.”

Ali said the city is working with community groups to add more affordable housing options and increase home ownership in the East Bluff.

Third District councilman Tom Riggenbach said the city is going to use grant money to repair roads and sidewalks in the East Bluff, as well as adding new lighting. He also said residents can apply for grants to cover part of the cost of home improvements, such as adding a new roof or siding.

“It's a very great way for us to help the homeowners improve their property,” he said. “If you're a first-time homeowner buyer and want to buy a home in the East Bluff, you can apply for our down payment assistance program, get some help with that.”

Riggenbach said improving roads and adding housing helps people feel safe.

“You can't just put more police officers on the street, we really need to look at some of the root causes for this and I truly believe that housing is a critical component to that,” he said.

Ali said increasing job rates is another top priority.

“It's important that we do everything that we can to try to help those individuals who are working age individuals to get the skills and credentials to get into the workforce if they so desire to do so,” she said.

Ali said the Peoria Police Department is planning to launch their new transparency dashboard in November. Residents will be able to look up information on crimes near their addresses, as well as reports about department diversity and use-of-force incidents.

She said the police need the community to work alongside them to reduce crime.

East Bluff resident Jesse McGowan Jr. said the neighborhood has kids who need more structure. He said some of the youth programs don’t help the kids who really need it.

“The parents are not supervising them, they’re just out there,” he said. “We need to put forth a proposal for the parents that do want help, a lot of parents just can't do it. And I know that's tough. If you don't have a support system, you can't do it. We need to establish some type of support system for the parents that need help.”

McGowan also said home ownership needs to increase, because he thinks that would get more people involved in community improvement programs.

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Camryn Cutinello is a reporter at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@ilstu.edu.