Why The Housing Authority of Champaign County Now Calls Henry Home

Apr 5, 2021

The Housing Authority of Champaign County's newest affordable housing complex is 115 miles away from the next-nearest property it manages. Here's why the agency is setting up camp in Marshall County.

The new 30-unit Oak Field Place apartment complex offers affordable housing for seniors in Henry, a river town about an hour due north of Peoria.

So how did Champaign County's housing authority get involved in all this?

"That's a good question. We actually get asked that quite a bit," said Temeka Couch, the interim deputy director of the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC). "The Housing Authority of Champaign County is a Moving to Work agency. So it allows us to think up innovative ways to create housing opportunities."

Moving to Work is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program allowing public housing authorities some additional flexibility in how they spend federal dollars.

In Champaign County's case, this allows them to explore potential affordable housing solutions for vulnerable populations in rural communities like Henry.

"Henry, Illinois does not have its own housing authority. And so, the need for affordable senior housing was there. The city welcomed us, the developer. And so we took part in it," Couch said.

The 30 independent living units are income-restricted under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Ten units allow for Project Based Vouchers, or rental assistance.

Couch said the new units may provide some relief for families who have moved away from their older loved ones in rural Marshall County.

"Those families can know that their parents, or grandparents, or whoever it may be to them, will be in a safe place," Couch said.

Couch said the first families will likely move in later this month.

The Housing Authority of Champaign County plans to develop similar affordable housing in Ladd in Bureau County, and Robinson in Crawford County. The three communities were identified through a market study conducted by HACC.

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