The Housing Workgroup began its work with discussions grounded in the questions brought by its members, who already had experience and expertise in this focus area. As this work progressed, we were able to identify and track common themes. We then began to gather housing data for the City of Peoria and Peoria County, while deepening our understanding of existing policies that have contributed to the continued gaps in wealth and homeownership.
The workgroup has begun to identify vast disparities in this data — especially between White and Black residents. While not as much data is available, we are also noting significant disparities between White and Hispanic residents. In addition, the workgroup has heard from commissions in other regions of the U.S. that have investigated similar inequities and are learning of their positive results.
In 2023, the Housing Workgroup plans to analyze geographic and demographic data (by census tract / zip code / zone) in the areas of home ownership, renting vs. homeownership, barriers to home ownership, quality of housing, and the unhoused population. It will seek to identify gaps in data; deepen understanding of existing policies; propose policy and program solutions; and understand Peoria’s place in the larger state and national picture. As we work to identify and engage community partners, we will move our analysis in the direction of solutions, utilizing partnerships at both the organizational and governmental levels.
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Quality housing is fundamental to human well-being. It has the potential to impact every other measure of our lives. Yet it is difficult to learn if a child is insecurely or poorly housed. It is difficult to maintain a healthy environment if the housing quality is poor or threatened by other community health vectors. Obtaining and keeping a job is more difficult if the worker is housing-insecure. Quality housing lies at the foundation of these basic building blocks for a healthy and safe life.
These indicators are at the heart of our work. They point to a lengthy history of racially determined policies and behaviors which have made it difficult for people of color to attain quality housing— including redlining by banks, insurance companies and governmental bodies; neighborhood covenants disallowing sales of property to Black people; and individual discrimination enacted by realtors, bankers, property managers and landlords.