Public officials and religious leaders gathered in East St. Louis Saturday to celebrate the expansion of a major housing project aimed at providing low-income residents with an affordable place to live.
President and CEO of the Corporation Pastor Herman Watson hopes that the project can become a model for similar efforts across the region.
“We want to lift this community up and make it a model not only for our city, but for our state and our country," he says. "With the help of God, and with the help of persons who are in office, they can make sure and we can make sure that we have hope for our people and our community.”
Watson, who is also the minister of the nearby Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, envisions that ultimately 200 homes will be built over the six phases of this project. He says the project gives both revitalization and a sense of hope to the community and residents. ”We sit in the middle of a desolate place, and what we have to do is understand that the church and the entities of the church are really connected to the community to bring life to our community.”
Mayor Alvin Parks and former U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello were also in attendance.
The project received nine million dollars in tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Association. The homes will be leased to families who make 50-60 percent of the median income for the area. Development is expected to start at the beginning of 2014.