Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saving homes in the East Bluff isn't part of the plan

Why are Third District Councilman Tim Riggenbach and associates with the East Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services (“EBNHS”) acting as if they are surprised that houses are now being demolished in the East Bluff?

There is no plan or real desire to save historical homes on the East Bluff. Why? Because it would be contrary to the so called "neighborhood revitalization initiative" involving the Greater Peoria Local Initiative Support Corp. ("LISC"), EBNHS, Chicago-based IFF developers, the state of Illinois and the city of Peoria.

In an article that ran in the March 15, 2016 Peoria Journal Star, Riggenbach credited LISC for being awarded a $3 million grant from the Illinois Attorney General to help fund the initiative. The money came from the state’s share of settlement funds from national foreclosure suits against a variety of banks (not clear if this includes US Bank, the owner of the now demolished Frye property).

In the March article, the executive director of  LISC, said his organization looks to build six single-family homes in the East Bluff while rehabbing eight others. The work is to be completed in the next two years.

In the same article, Riggenbach said that 20 dilapidated homes in the East Bluff are scheduled to be demolished in 2016, adding that a recent LISC program involved 120 projects in 60 different East Bluff homes. Those projects range from applying lipstick new paint, to putting on a new porch in some homes.

A look at the work being done on the rehabbed homes will show that the work is sub-par and in several instances, the residents have complained to the EBNHS. One porch in particular was torn out accidentally and had to be replaced, while the concrete stairs on a house in the 1800 block of Wisconsin remain unfinished for close to a year.

The EBNHS, who is responsible for hiring the contractors to work on the rehabbed homes, recently ran out of money claiming “unforeseen expenses” rehabbing the homes in the Community Core. Those unforeseen expenses are said to include a new furnace for one property, garage repairs for another property, something that cost $4,337.57, something that cost $10,109.80 and something else that cost $15,000.

The East Bluff Neighborhood Special Services District Contract between EBNHS and the City of Peoria, was recently revised to allow LISC to restructure the EBNHS Board, following a retreat with the City of Peoria.

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