Public Announcements


Winnebago County Housing Authority Receives the IAHA 2017 Resident Relations Award

Winnebago County Housing Authority Receives the IAHA 2017 Resident Relations Award

1.SUMMARY OF PROGRAM: The Winnebago Homes Association (WHA) is an affordable housing development nonprofit component of the Winnebago Housing Authority  (WCHA) which is providing a home to the Rockford Police Department (RPD) for the Police Officer Residency Program. In this program, a police officer is provided a home in a hig hcrime area o fRockford. The home is provided rent free for the Officer's residence, and in return the Officer commits to a visible and high profile community involvement. The Officer commits to a three year residency and the program has been proven to have a measurable impact in reducing crime.

2.DESCRIPTION  OF  THE  PROGRAM: The  objective  of  the  Police  Officer  Residency Program is to measurably reduce crime in a high-crime neighborhood throughtheofficer's visible residence.The clientele served  are  the  housing  authority's Housing  Choice  Voucher  residents in  the  neighborhood  and  proximity,  but  in  a  larger  sense  the  clientele  served  is  the complete  community  in  the  impact  to  crime,  and  to  all  housing  authority  residents  in the impact  the  public  relations  the program  brings  to  housing  authorities. The  housing authority's  nonprofit  component,  WHA,  purchased  the  home  through revenue  realized  from development  programs  and  rental  income  and  provided  it  free  to  the  Rockford  Police Department  forthree  years,  although  the  intention  is  to  continually  provide  the  program until  the  reduction  of  crime  is  sustained. WHA provided  the  $40,000  for  the  purchase  of the  home  and  maintains  ownership,  and  provides  the  ongoing  maintenance  costs.The Rockford  Police  Department  and  the  City  of  Rockford  provide  all  utilities. Comcast provides free  Internet,  telephone and  cable  services.

3.THE RESULTS OR SUCCESS OF THE PROGRAM: In 2016 the Winnebago County Housing Authority contacted Rockford Police Department Chief Dan O'Shea with an offer to purchase a home for an officer residency program to help impact against crime. We had experience with a similar program in the period of 1999-2002 at the Collier Garden Apartments in Rockford, where an apartment would be offered to a Winnebago County Sheriffs Deputy in return for the Deputy providing anofficer's presence with their residence, patrolling the building and grounds and meeting with residents and the resident council. The program was very successful and ended when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required that all public housing units be returned to use for low income families.

WCHA has a nonprofit affordable housing development component, Winnebago Homes Association(WHA), which is a 501(c)3 instrumentality component of WCHA, and we presented an offer that WHA would purchase the home and provide it rent free to the Rockford Police Department for an Officer Residency Program. We discovered that Chief O'Shea had a successful Officer Residency program in Elgin, Illinois, that was also replicated in Peoria, Illinois which demonstrated a 25% reduction in neighborhood crime, and he was enthused to replicate it in Rockford.

For the Rockford program the Police Department identified a west side and an east side neighborhood boundary area for one home in each of the two areas. The target areas required the characteristics of an approximate mix of 50% homeowner occupancy and 50% rental occupancy and which has a high crime rate coupled with a statistically measured increase in crime, and proximity to churches and schools.

The goal of placing a police officer in residencein these areas would be to establish better communication between the police department and communityresidents. The resident officer would regularly provide school presentations to educate and familiarize children to be comfortable with the police, they would meet with the churches and their congregations, and they would be trained to provide residents with projects and opportunities in the area.The program officers introduce themselves door to door with the residents, have a visible presence with their squad car and the home signage with the officer's cell phone number, and are available in the neighborhood. They are expected to work a 40 hour week; however, for example, if a serious incident were to occurat night, the program officer would be expected to respond and to help calm the people in the neighborhood. The residency program also helps the Department's goal to bring officers into residence within the city.The residency officer makes a commitment of three to five years for the residency. The officer pays no rent, pays their own utilities and provides their own yardwork.

Assistant Deputy Chief Carla Redd worked with us to identify the home. We inspected three homes chosen by the Rockford Police Department as available for sale in the identified neighborhood, ranging in price from $44,900 to $69,900. The home at 1007 15th Street was the selection agreed upon by WHA and the Rockford Police Department as possessing the best characteristics, location, and comparable cost.

The home islocated .3 miles from Nelson Elementary School (K-5), .6 miles from Lincoln Middle School (6-8) and one mile from East High School (9-12).

The owners accepted our $40,000 offer and the closing occurred on 03/20/17. Rockford Police Officer Eric Thurmond volunteered for the program and his family moved in on 05/01/17.

4.WORTHINESS FOR AN AWARD: The program and the home have attracted the attention and support of Congresswoman Bustos, Senator Duckworth and Senator Durbin, all of which plan a visit after the officer takes residence. Both Senators are requesting updates to continue to learn how the program can continue to demonstrate success and be replicated in other communities. It was shared with the legislators that this program was only possible because of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and the support they provided to that legislation.  WHA cams co-developer fees for its LIHTC new construction and redevelopment programs and ongoing return for its programs, which also involve mixed finance leverage of HOPE VI, RAD-I, RAD-II, Capital Funds, Project Based Vouchers, Public Housing, American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds, HOME and the Affordable Housing Program among others. They were made aware that government support of such programs not only brings infrastructure investment, property tax support for communities, impacts poverty and provides housing for low-income families-it also extends into such areas as helping impact against crime (such as the opioid epidemic) and creates community partnerships and builds community trust with law enforcement agencies.

The neighborhood received prior notice of the home's use and on 07/07/17 the home publicly opened with a Block Party attended by neighboring homeowners and renters, landlords, the Rockford Mayor and the County Board Chairman, City alderman  and County commissioners, church leaders, WCHA board and staff and school officials. Everyone was served food; there was a band, an ice cream truck, sports events, giveaways for children and games. Officer Thurmond had been visiting everyone in the neighborhood for over two weeks prior to the event so he could become known, and a permanent sign is in front of the house announcing it as a home for the Police Department's Officer Residency Program and displays Officer Thurmond's cell number. The inhabitants of a suspected drug home across the street moved out the day before the block party.



Map of Rockford Area

Alan Zais and Jerry Gille


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