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Guest Column: City Hall chooses not to represent citizens

July 1, 1993

Guest Column: City Hall chooses not to represent citizens

By Lori Gustafson

The current Mayor of Rockford, Doug Scott, and his Community Director, Jim Caruso, have chosen to NOT represent the citizens of Rockford. Mr. Scott and Mr. Caruso have been working diligently in representing a Milwaukee developer who might be given millions of Illinois tax dollars to develop Rockford prime riverfront property into program housing.

If allowed to pass, the use of the building for program housing is locked in for 39 YEARS! Program Housing is discriminatory in that the general public of wage earners would not be allowed access to more than 12 percent of the available units.

Program housing is akin to the project housing built in the 1960s, whereby they stack many units into large buildings and fill with one demographic segment of the population. Management of these facilities is usually negligent but very profitable for the owners of these facilities. These facilities are not nurturing environments for families, children and individuals as they erupt into crime havens.

One positive initiative of HUD is its recognition of the failure of these facilities and its acts to undo the 1960’s mistakes through a program called HOPE VI.

We should back all HOPE VI efforts to undo our past mistakes. We should not support the making of new mistakes. People of low-income status should not be warehoused like livestock. They should not be used to fill the pockets of the developers, owners or management of these facilities. People of low-income status should be given the chance for dignity through integration with other segments of the population. Herding people of low-income status into one large building and earmarking the structure that houses them is NOT respectable or humane treatment of low-income individuals.

This is just one of many issues to be considered in the current proposal for development of the Amerock Building through use of millions of Illinois Taxpayer dollars in the form of low-income tax credits to Milwaukee-based developer Tim Dixon.

This current proposal is not good enough and we must ask the proponents to go back to the drawing board and do it with gracious consideration for the residents of Rockford, Ill. representing all walks of life.

Lori Gustafson is a 40-year Rockford resident, co-owner of Wallor Properties, member of Rockford Apartment Association, president of Haight Village National Register Historic District, chairwoman of River District Residential Business Development, and Steering Committee member of Neighborhood Network.

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