Rockford City Council approves plans for a 116-unit development on South Avon Street with a 10-3 vote.

“Affordable housing is a crisis, not just in the city of Rockford and in Winnebago County, but across the state and across this entire nation,” said Keri Asevedo, executive director at Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. “There are so many people here in our city that are both under-housed and unhoused.”

Karen Hoffman, who represents the 8th ward, voted in favor of it but has questions about the design.

“I’m not in favor of the 64-unit the way it’s built. I think it should be townhomes and I’m not in favor of single families, but there are a lot of good things, including putting washers and dryers in every apartment. That helps families with children,” said 8th ward Alderman Karen Hoffman.

A big issue has been the state of the land and what will happen to the soil and water quality. The dense area of the development is another concern among residents.

“You have a police department in back. You have a federal prison over to the south of it. You have a railroad train track. You have a creek,” said Rockford resident Flossie Hoarde. “There’s very little greenspace there.”

Much of the discussion was about the bigger picture and how to handle the need for housing.

“We really have to stop demonizing the people that will live in affordable housing,” said Hoffman. “Those people are some of our own employees, including Head Start teachers. They are people who change our oil. They are the cashiers at the grocery store or at the dry cleaners. They are half of our city and they deserve good housing as much as everybody else.”

This vote was only about zoning approval. It may come back before the council if developers ask the city for assistance.