By Jim Hagerty
The Rockford Rescue Mission has the green light to expand its existing facility, Rockford aldermen voted Monday, June 9.
The mission plans to expand its women’s crisis center into its main facility at 715 W. State St. The women’s shelter is now on Cedar Street.
The new, 25,700 square-foot addition will allow the mission to close the existing shelter and provide 12 news beds for the women’s crisis shelter in addition to 32 beds for the Life Recovery Services program.
Life Recovery Services is a one-year rehabilitation program that helps displaced women recover from addiction, return to school and find employment.
While Rockford Rescue Mission Executive Director Sherry Pitney noted an increasing need for expansion in recent years, Ald. Venita Hervey, D-5, argued the measure. Hervey argued that expanding the mission will only add to an already blighted area.
“I’m opposed to Rockford continuing to bring into our city huge populations of people who are indigent, who are in poverty, when we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state,” Hervey said, referring to the mission’s policy of accepting displaced men and women from other cities.
The vote was 11-1 for the expansion.
The council also voted 10-2 to allocate a total of $90,000 to the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) for its downtown beautification plan. As part of the Forest City Beautiful project, the RACVB will provide $50,000 in landscaping, painting and floral services downtown.
The city also agreed to pay an additional $20,000 for the next to years if the bureau can raise enough funding to maintain the program.
The Rockford City Council meets every Monday at 6 p.m., at City Hall.