Guest Column: Housing Authority CEO: Time to unify behind quality living

By Ron Clewer
CEO, Rockford Housing Authority

Since Tuesday night’s “No” vote on Choice Neighborhoods, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) and I have both publicly called for a community discussion to develop a strategy for housing that will address poor quality housing, quality affordable housing and locations where residents want to live. This morning, the mayor issued a memo to council and department heads seeking this same discussion. We both want to align our strategies, and there are more desiring the same outcome.

Ald. Marcus Hill, D-6, and Ald. John Beck, R-12, by show of support and positive vote (our two “Yes” votes) in the Choice Application discussions, want to advance these discussions. Ald. Tom McNamara, D-3, stated in Friday’s Choice Neighborhoods meeting that he, too, wants to have this discussion and learn more about best practice housing strategies and financing. Ald. Jeanne Oddo, D-8, reached out by phone, and we had very spirited conversation about housing, and she also supports having a conversation and developing a strategy. Ald. Ann Thompson-Kelly, D-7, has called and left a message asking that we meet to come to agreement. These are good sign toward next steps.

On Monday night, at 5:30 p.m., I will address city council and accept the mayor’s offer to have these discussions. I will accept the offer of the above aldermen and give public thanks to Ald. Hill and Ald. Beck. I will state, “A no vote is not a strategy,” and invite the remaining aldermen to join us in this discussion. A time and place will be established, and I will request that the discussions be transparent and open to the community.

Our residents have expressed their frustration. Our residents want to be present and stand in peaceful support of a community-wide plan to address quality housing needs for all — including those in need of affordable housing; especially those in need.

This is not a stand for RHA or Ellis Heights residents to make alone. If we believe in unity, caring and respect, then we should stand side by side with our neighbors and support each other. Now is the time to live our shared values and unify our voice — all people deserve a quality home to live in, in neighborhoods with access to the quality of life essentials — quality schools, safe neighborhoods, blight-free neighborhoods, shopping options, restaurants, etc. This is an expectation for all of our residents, and should be available in every neighborhood!

If transportation is needed, transportation will be provided from Fairgrounds Valley Community Center to City Hall and back. We will leave Fairgrounds at 5:10 p.m. and leave City Hall at 6:30 p.m. to return to Fairgrounds.

Thank you!

Ron Clewer

CEO, Rockford Housing Authority

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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