Larry Williams Weighs In On Becoming Rockford Housing Authority's New CEO

Williams plans to bring a unique perspective having grown up in public housing

ROCKFORD - "I think it's important to realize that there's a lot of things that have been done, prior to me getting here," said the Rockford Housing Authority's (RHA) new CEO Larry Williams. "An effective leader, instead of doing everything differently, you build on what's there," he added.

Williams will be taking the helm later in September, but he is not a new face to the stateline. He served as the Freeport Housing Authority CEO for the past eight years.

He also brings a unique perspective to the job. As a Freeport native, Williams grew up in housing authority properties.

"It shaped me because I didn't like the experience," Williams said. "When I actually came back to run the housing authority, all I could think about was what would I have liked to have seen when I was growing up there," he said.

As CEO for the Freeport Housing Authority, one of the changes he made was to help residents find work.
Williams developed a program called the 'Workforce Development Institute', which allowed residents to develop the skills they need to get a job.

"(It) really helped them focus on how they present themselves and we have a 90% success rate," Williams said. "Almost all the people that graduate our program go on to be full or part-time employed."

One of Williams' major challenges will be crime. It has plagued several of the Rockford Housing Authority properties. A man was shot and killed outside the Fairgrounds Valley less than two weeks ago.

"I think what we see is, people have adapted to whatever environment that they are in, and so you have to create a different environment," he said. "You have to kind of change the morale of the environment."

Another issue is The Grove at New Towne. The controversial housing development on South New Towne became a hotbed of controversy after neighboring residents fought against it.

Williams says tensions are simply solved by building relationships with those around you.

"We've all had stereotypes and thought certain ways about certain things," he said. "Once we have a conversation we're like 'oh, that guy wasn't that bad at all'," he added. "So I think starting there will kind of ease the tensions and concerns, because they are people," Williams said.

Williams will take office on September 14th.


 


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