Celebrating the results of public and private cooperation, the Montgomery County Housing Authority (MCHA)cut ribbons Wednesday, Oct. 21, on 97 affordable housing units in Hillsboro and Litchfield.
“We’re changing lives,” housing authority CEO Kelly Moroney said, “and we’re getting rid of the stigma attached to low income housing.”
The Hillsboro ribbon cutting celebrated the opening of “The Hills,” 50 single family and duplex public housing units that replaced the 50 barracks-style Long Avenue housing units that date back to the 1950s.
The Litchfield ribbon cutting re-opened 47 remodeled two and three-bedroom apartments at Brown Shoe on State Street.
Moroney said her office is currently taking move-in applications for both locations. In Hillsboro, houses are being leased as they are finished; 30 are currently rented and the remaining 20 will be available before the end of the year. In Litchfield, three of the four floors at Brown Shoe are finished; first floor apartments will be leased when work there is done.
The projects were a cooperative effort between the housing authority, Windsor Development Group of Springfield who was the contractor for both jobs, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Congratulations to this entire community,” Congressman Rodney Davis said. “This is a great example of what a public-private partnership can do.”
Mike Niehaus of Windsor thanked the housing authority, state and federal agencies, Litchfield National Bank, and city government in both Hillsboro and Litchfield.
“It does take a village to do one of these projects,” Moroney said. “I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.”
As an example, the Hillsboro School District volunteered to provide transportation for children who had been temporarily displaced outside of the school district during demolition and construction.
IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust admitted that the first remodel at Brown Shoe “didn’t go the way we wanted. All affordable housing developments are challenging. This one was over the top challenging.”
Both Niehaus and Moroney described deficiencies in the condition of the building when the housing authority took ownership, “but we’re not going to dwell on the past. We’re going to keep this building in good shape.”
In Hillsboro, Commissioner Don Downs described progress at the housing authority over the years, and Moroney thanked city hall for cooperation in establishing two new roads–one where the former Long Avenue units were and another where the former trailer court was–both now streets with attractive affordable housing.
In Litchfield, both Mayor Steve Dougherty and City Administrator Tonya Flannery expressed gratitude for the partnership involved in the project.
“We have confidence in the housing authority,” Flannery said.
Dan Hough, chairman of the MCHA board of directors, praised the housing authority staff for its work during large construction projects, and their coordination of moving residents in and out of units to accommodate the work schedule.