Aldermen considered both funding options and potential challenges associated with renovating existing houses and the development of new subdivisions. Galesburg has seen a 42-percent increase in the supply of vacant housing between 2000 and 2010.
Some key aspects will likely be targeted moving forward, such as moderate-to-low-income neighborhoods. Fifth Ward Alderman Peter Schwartzman says his only concern is that a proposed City Housing Committee represent diverse communities.
“We need to improve the neighborhoods throughout,” says Schwartzman. “You might be able to get a grant that applies to one area, but nonetheless there’s a lot of TLC required in the City that would benefit everyone.”
Not only is the quantity of housing in question, but the quality as well – something that would require funding grants, lower interest loans, or other subsidies. City Manager Todd Thompson says some of the possible grant and incentive options require effort.
“City’s make it work, but you’ve really got to commit yourself to it in terms of resources and that’s why I go back to almost having to have a person specialized to work on the housing program,” says Thompson.
Aldermen provided direction that would effectively lead to meetings with realtors and developers to understand how to attract housing development in Galesburg. The City urged the Council to ensure that any housing committee work to conduct research and actively seek information before making their recommendation.
The City has $1-million dollars in Urban Development Action Grant funds that could act as a starting place, but Sixth Ward Alderman Wayne Allen says making room for available land development is crucial.
“For years, there have been people crying for condominiums, duplexes, whatever you call them,” says Allen. “There is a market for those in this town and whoever would start a subdivision in this town would sell them.”
Mayor John Pritchard stated he would be looking for individuals to appoint, but the City currently believes the process could take anywhere from several months to one year to begin working with companies to develop housing.