“We’re talking about working families…” Monmouth’s Low-Income Housing Issue

Photo from WCHA Facebook page.

A wide range of people are affected by the housing issue in Monmouth, but low-income families are the most at risk. “All are impacted by inflation and increased housing costs, including higher rents, taxes, insurance, maintenance, upkeep, etc.  We work with low-income households and see the greatest impact being for single-parent families,” said Director of the Warren County Housing Authority Hank Shimmin. 

“We’re talking about working families, families that don’t have a $100,000 a year job, these are probably young professionals that are just starting out or their families where the parents may be working at Smithfield or at the pet food plant. That type of thing that doesn’t really make up.” said City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher.

 There are safety nets in place for these families, but despite them, there is a struggle to find room for everybody. The available public housing is already nearly at full capacity with a waiting list. When a home becomes vacant, it’s almost immediately filled. “These are quality homes for a broad spectrum of people, but again, simply not enough for the need.” said Shimmin.

There have been efforts to build more houses but a variety of issues have prevented that so far. “It’s just been very difficult because there aren’t any local land developers or home builders that know the Monmouth market, so we have to convince people from Peoria or the quad cities that, if you build it, people will buy new homes because we just haven’t had a history of new homes being built for a long time here,” said Steinbrecher. 

“Why not build more houses? It’s quite complex, while yes you could build new houses, but the cost at the moment is just too high and just not economical and on top of that I doubt there’s a line of people itching to live in Monmouth,” said Christian Bahena, former broker for Keller Williams Realty.

“Where’s the next place for building? There’s plenty of lots available, but with the cost to building right now, you’d be paying three or four times the amount that your house will be worth ten years down the road,” said co-owner of Prairie Radio Communications and Clear Profits Digital Marketing Company, Vanessa Wetterling.

Applications for the new Monmouth Townhomes, which are composed of 44 rental units and will house families who qualify based on their income, opened mid-summer.

“The new housing complex, just north of our property (Oak Terrace and Costello Terrace) will be a great addition to Monmouth and to Warren County.  A tax credit development, similar to Prairie Pointe, just north of Smithfield, they have income limits very similar to ours. Brand new with amenities such as garages, they will be very attractive and a nice addition.  44 total units (1, 2, 3, & 4 bedroom units) – I was told that they have 90+ applications. I am not sure of their rent restrictions, but I have been told that the rents will be approximately $700 – $1,000 per month, based on bedroom size,” said Shimmin.

The Monmouth Townhomes have a Facebook page with updates on housing. The Warren County Housing Authority can be reached for more information regarding housing also via their Facebook page or their phone number, (309) 734-2080.

Julie Briones, Jonathon Diaz, Sanaia Jenkins

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