The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 9, 2012

Changes ahead for public housing


Commercial-News

DANVILLE — The end of Danville’s Fair Oaks public housing complex might not be too far away. Few will be sorry to see it go, especially since its demise should mean better conditions for its residents and improvement for the community as a whole.

The plan being put together by the Danville Housing Authority, which oversees public housing in the city, and city officials doesn’t mean the end of public housing. As long as there are residents who need assistance to find decent, affordable housing, their will be a role for such programs.

The plan, however, appears to mean the end of public housing complexes with apartments clustered together in a single site. And that’s where the benefits come in.

DHA Director Greg Hilleary said he thinks the local situation is about 20 years behind other communities, such as Springfield and Champaign, that have worked to spread public housing throughout their cities. And Hilleary and city officials are working to catch up.

Eliminating the large housing complexes makes sense from a fiscal standpoint. The apartments need frequent renovations and remodeling, and maintenance can be difficult.

The idea also makes sense as a safety issue, both for residents who now must live in the large complexes and those who live near them.

Problems in public housing often can be traced not to those who live there, but those who are there with no good reason other than to cause trouble. Spreading public housing across a large geographic area reduces the opportunities for confrontations. Strict enforcement of rules also plays a role in making public housing safer.

It’s good to see DHA representatives and city officials working to resolve public housing issues. Their combined efforts hold much more promise of success than working individually or, as has been the case at times in the past, working toward different goals. We look forward toward seeing a resolution to the community’s public housing issues in the not too distant future.