“The biggest issue that we have with housing policy is that we have generated, or folks prior to us today, generated a whole lot of housing policy that was primarily if not almost exclusively generated with economic interests in mind,” said Midtown District Board Member, Brad Roos.
Roos and other local housing experts met Sunday at Midway Village for a community forum about the future of housing in Rockford. Roos says the current housing situation was shaped due to housing policies made during the baby boomer generation.
“Malls, suburbs, cars, a lot more cars, longer term mortgages, those kinds of things changed the ways our cities were structured,” Roos said.
Roos believes those changes created socioeconomic polarization. Going forward, Roos believes people will have to be willing to integrate with those with different socioeconomic backgrounds.
“We can see tremendous impact when people of high values, and good will, and faith, make a conscious effort to move into neighborhoods that are not like them,” Roos added.
In Rockford however, lower income neighborhoods have become hotbeds for crime. Many have moved out of the city into safer, more well-off neighborhoods. Rockford Housing Authority CEO, Ron Clewer, believes that better integration, like with the new South New Towne housing project, is key to a better community.
“That’s the real success in any community, is that neighborhood connection and that neighborhood character, and that neighborhood connection to an overall community,” Clewer said. “Other than that housing is just a roof over your head,” he added.