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Here's What the New Taft Homes May Look Like

The Peoria Housing Authority got some good news last week when the state approved its preliminary plans for the new Taft Homes. More details about those plans are becoming public.

WCBU obtained a copy of the plans the public housing authority will present to the Peoria City Council next Tuesday as it asks for the city's backing in its application for the 9% state Low Income Housing Tax Credits and 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits the agency wants to leverage to fund various aspects of the $24.1 million project.

The plans include previously undisclosed concept drawings for the new housing, and a more detailed timeline for the project's initial stages.

WCBU previously reported the PHA wants to convert 32 total units of the 226 total units to scattered housing throughout the East Bluff in the plan's first two phases. Those plans are expected to close by spring.

The current management building and 27 residential rowhouses on the Taft Homes property would be demolished, and replaced with 132 new units made up of townhouses and duplexes. A new playground, "tot lot," community building and resource center would also be constructed.

The PHA said the rest of the complex's units are currently vacant. In its planning documents, the PHA said it wants to "de-densify" the current Taft Homes.

Current residents would have the right to return to the new housing units at the same 30 percent of income rent rate they pay now. Temporary housing would be provided during the transition process, though where isn't immediately clear.

The process to demolish and replace the 1950s barracks-style housing in Peoria's North Valley originally constructed as temporary quarters for Korean War veterans began several years ago. But it's faced several delays attributed to high turnover in the executive's office, fierce community opposition to public housing in other parts of the city, and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) classification of the PHA as a "troubled" public housing authority.

The Springfield Housing Authority took over day-to-day management of the Peoria Housing Authority in 2018. CEO Jackie Newman heads up both agencies.

The PHA hopes to convert the Taft Homes to privately-owned Section 8 housing through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program. The PHA will donate the land upon which Taft Home currently site to the non-profit CDA Housing. That group would then sell the land, valued at $7 million, to a yet-to-be determined investor. The sale would bring about $3.1 million in donation credits back to the PHA.

Kenosha, Wisc.-based Bear Development would be a "special member" to the project. The company is involved in numerous public housing conversion projects across the Midwest.

The plans call for the PHA to continue managing the properties. The PHA hopes to close on the final project by November.

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