City of Peoria: Making the Case for the Southside

Report National Resource Network Peoria, Illinois December 1, 2016 Equity

In January 2016, the National Resource Network and the City of Peoria began an 11-month partnership to make the case for increased investment in the Southside neighborhood and a collaborative effort to reduce poverty among residents.

The Peoria Southside is a racially/ethnically-concentrated area of poverty (R/ECAP) with poverty exceeding 90 percent of residents and is the location of the only R/ECAP tracts in the wider Peoria metropolitan area. Within this zone Blacks were 65 percent of the population, but only 27 percent of the population citywide. Based on 2010 census data, the Southside R/ECAP tracts accounted for more than 50 percent of the entire impoverished population of Peoria. There is little to no market demand for the remaining housing stock or land in the Southside, resulting in significant blight, abandonment and disinvestment in the area. A recent study found that 71 percent of buildings in the South Village TIF (tax increment finance) sub-neighborhood of the Southside were deteriorated and 13 percent of buildings and 25 percent of parcels were vacant. The loss of residents has decimated the commercial sector, with commercial activity limited to a few corner stores and vendors specializing in discount goods.

Working within this context, the Network collaborated with city leaders to conduct additional research and analysis on the challenges facing the Southside. The result of this effort was an engagement report, which recommended that the city undertake a process to develop a shared vision for the Southside to unite and align the city, stakeholders’ and residents’ efforts, and guide incremental steps toward progress.

The report explored the Southside’s past, present and future, and how the spread of poverty might affect adjacent communities if action was not taken. The negative impact of concentrated poverty, in particular its correlation with lower access to opportunity, presented an urgent need to interrupt the cycle of poverty.

The report presented a Collective Impact model, a framework for structured collaboration – including five elements: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and a backbone support organization to facilitate collaboration between various stakeholders.

The Network’s engagement team in Peoria was led by Network consortium member Enterprise Community Partners and included a guest presenter from FSG.

City of Peoria: Making the Case for the Southside