Starting in the spring of 2019, the landscape of East Hillsboro will be getting a major facelift, thanks to the efforts of the Montgomery County Housing Authority, which will be replacing all of the military barracks-style low-income housing that dates back to the early 1950s.
"We are so excited to get started," said Montgomery County Housing Authority Program Coordinator Brandi Young. "This project will not just benefit the people that live here, but the entire community."
Kelly Moroney, who serves as the CEO of the Montgomery County Housing Authority, said it's been a mission of the organization to replace all the public housing in Montgomery County with new structures.
In the past few years, they have completed part of their mission with new apartments in Witt, Nokomis and on Bluff Street in Hillsboro, which serves as low-income housing for the elderly.
Moroney said the 50 units on Long Avenue in Hillsboro have been on her list for awhile now, and the organization is excited for the community's facelift.
"Those units are sitting almost on top of each other," Moroney said. "They have long since served their original purpose, but they are pretty obsolete."
The Montgomery County Housing Authority plans to break ground on the update to Long Avenue this spring, which will include more than 20 energy efficient two and three-bedroom single family homes with garages and additional apartment buildings across from Independence Drive.
The plan also includes a new 3,000 square-foot community center for local events.
Young said she's especially excited about the community center, where they will be able to plan more events for residents.
Moroney said the project is ambitious, replacing 50 units with 50 new units, but they are hoping the construction will move quickly and not many families will have to be displaced in the process. She said they plan to build around the Long Avenue units first, in order to displace as few people as possible.
"One of the biggest things is that we will be able to spread people out," Moroney said. "Currently, families only have a tiny yard and all the units are connected."
She added that the units do not currently have any storage or accessibility.
"People don't have anywhere to put their bikes or their lawn chairs," Moroney said. "With these new units, the low income housing will look just like any other subdivision."
Young, who grew up in one of the units on Long Avenue, said she was excited for that.
"I was always too embarrassed to invite friends over to my home," she said. "But now, these kids won't have that. It's just exciting."
Moroney said they are also planning for sidewalks throughout the new units, and that the city would provide a sidewalk to the Hillsboro Sports Complex as well.
"This is just going to be so nice for the whole community," Moroney said. "It's just going to change the outlook. I can hardly wait 'til it's finished."
In making changes, they have also changed the street names in that area. It will no longer be Long Avenue, but rather Roosevelt Drive. And one of the subdivisions will be Kennedy Court.
The Montgomery County Housing Authority is working with Windsor Development Group in Springfield on construction of the entire project, and it is expected to take around a year to fully complete.
Moroney said the next phase of the plan is to replace the 1950s low-income housing units at Kirk Terrace in Litchfield, followed by the remaining apartments in Taylor Springs, Coffeen, Litchfield and Raymond.
In addition to low-income housing, the Montgomery County Housing Authority also provides a wide range of affordable housing and a housing choice voucher program (formerly known as Section 8), as well as medium-income housing with private market apartments in Hillsboro.
"We really do have something that can meet everyone's needs," said Moroney. "And we're always happy to help."