By Michael Peppers
The Rockford Housing Authority teams with community organizations to help end poverty among its residents.
The program is called "ReBuild: Your Life, Your Choice. Its goal is to create a path to better education and better jobs that will help people be able to move out of public housing.
"We're not getting federal funding to build a lot more bricks and mortar and the demand for improving one's education, improving one's job skill is very high," said RHA Executive Director John Cressman.
The program is being tested first in the Blackhawk Courts Complex. Residents there can be connected with the GED fairs to help further their education. The RHA is teaming up with the Workforce Investment Board and the City of Rockford. The program also offers an escrow account for families who want to save up for education.
"With this creation of an escrow account, as their rent increases, that difference goes into a savings account that can then be used to improve education, employment skills, either for themselves, or their children," said Rockford Community Services Director Jennifer Jaeger.
Plans for ReBuild have been in the works for nearly 2 years. RHA Executive Director John Cressman says they've been able to set aside $1.2 million to start the program.
We've hired a half a dozen social workers and we expect that within the year, we should be able to reach 400 families with this additional staff.
So far, about 60 families in the Blackhawk Court Complex have signed up. Jaeger hopes rebuild with help them end a long cycle of poverty in Rockford.
Children raised in poverty have much lower success rates in general in education and in other areas of life.
So we really want to make sure that we're trying to break that cycle of poverty.
Residents living in Blackhawk Courts Complex who want to participate in the rebuild program can do so by going to the building office.
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