JOLIET – The Housing Authority of Joliet on Wednesday approved a contract with a moving company to relocate Des Plaines Gardens Homes residents, who could begin getting Section 8 vouchers to move elsewhere by next week.
Authority CEO Michael Simelton said residents "still have to go through a process" after getting vouchers before moving.
"Their units have to be inspected and approved," he said.
But those who want to move soon could begin leaving in a couple of weeks, he said.
The authority board approved a $134,000 contract with Midway Moving and Storage Inc. out of Chicago to provide moving services to residents going elsewhere in Will County.
"This is the next step in us relocating residents," Simelton told the board before the contract was approved.
On Thursday and Friday, authority officials will meet with residents to discuss the relocation plans and procedures.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week gave final approval for demolition of 122 of the 162 units at Des Plaines Gardens. Demolition is scheduled to begin in March.
The authority will replace the demolished units with a new townhome and single-family development to be called Water's Edge, which will be built at the same area of Des Plaines Street south of downtown.
The authority expects to issue 180-day notices before the end of this week to Des Plaines Gardens residents, informing them they have to move out of the units slated for demolition.
Simelton said six months was sufficient time for residents at the old Poole Gardens when that housing complex was destroyed and replaced by the Liberty Meadow Estates subdivision.
Like Poole Gardens, Des Plaines Gardens residents will get housing vouchers providing subsidized rent payments for them to move elsewhere. Simelton said those vouchers could be available as early as Sept. 24.
"The vouchers are good anywhere in the United States," Tina Pourroy, manager of the Housing Choice Voucher Program for the authority, told the board.
The authority expects to begin construction of Water's Edge in May 2016. The project is anticipated to take 18 months to build, but according to a redevelopment schedule, the first homes could be occupied by March 2017.
Former Des Plaines Gardens residents would be given first rights to occupy the new units at Water's Edge, authority attorney Eric Hanson said.
Hanson said the authority has been working with the Shriver Center, an advocacy organization for low-income people, in developing a human rights contract for Des Plaines Gardens residents.
"It's assuring that those 122 residents have a priority, have an option to come back to a new home if they so desire," he said.
Only 68 homes will be built in Water's Edge, but Des Plaines Gardens residents also would be able to move into 54 additional homes being planned at Liberty Meadow Estates.