The Community Needs Assessment Survey will empower Jacksonville residents to chart the course for the future development and improvement of their city. By taking this fast, anonymous and easy survey, residents can make their needs, goals and aspirations for the community known. The survey is a collaborative effort between several agencies.
“The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation is excited to work with city leaders and the Illinois Housing Development Authority to develop a new housing needs assessment for Jacksonville. The responses to the Community Needs Assessment Survey will provide valuable feedback from Jacksonville residents that will directly impact decisions made during this community revitalization effort,” said Kristin Jamison, president of Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC).
Meghan Cuneo, community revitalization planner, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), further explained the community’s role. “The Community Needs Assessment Survey is completely anonymous and allows residents to take part in developing a strategy for future development, identifying housing needs and goals, and creating the long term vision for Jacksonville. Just by living in Jacksonville, residents have valuable information about the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the city. More participation in the survey and at community meetings results in a more relevant, meaningful and democratic Community Revitalization Plan.”
The importance of community participation for Jacksonville’s Community Revitalization partnership cannot be stressed enough.
“Ultimately, by participating in the survey and attending future community meetings, residents will be able to determine the direction of Jacksonville’s revitalization strategy for this plan,” said Cuneo. “The role of IHDA in this partnership with the city of Jacksonville is to provide technical assistance. The role of the residents, city and stakeholders is to tell us what kind of future they want to see in Jacksonville. IHDA and the city work together to put that feedback into a formal plan with as many resources and implementation tools as possible.”
Brian Nyberg, community development director, spoke to the city’s goal “to promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Jacksonville” and how the Community Needs Assessment Survey will help achieve that goal.
“One of my priorities is to reduce the number of abandoned and neglected homes and neighborhoods in the city,” said Nyberg. “The partnership we are forming with the Illinois Housing Development Authority affirms the city’s commitment to better serve the community’s needs. IHDA is committed to expanding the capacity of underserved communities in Illinois to identify local housing needs and to empower those communities to take steps to meet those needs. The Community Needs Assessment Survey that we will be releasing for public input is part of an overall Community Revitalization Strategy.”
“We invite all permanent residents and students to take part in this planning process by completing this survey to provide valuable information about their experience living in Jacksonville,” said Nyberg. “A strong Community Revitalization Strategy will provide guidance for the community to follow to bring about its vision over the long term, and should include input from local residents, neighborhood boards and groups, nonprofit agencies, local businesses, educational institutions, service agencies and other local stakeholders.”
In terms of current revitalization efforts, Nyberg said his office is at the start of the process of establishing a land bank to focus on the conversion of vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties into productive use.
Additionally, his office is working with local service organizations with trash pickup days throughout the city. “We are hoping that property owners will see this, and ‘pitch in’ to help,” said Nyberg. This is the sort of engagement he hopes the community survey will further reinforce “to make our city a better, cleaner and safer place to live.”
“Many people are moving from larger, urban cities to smaller, rural communities since the COVID pandemic hit,” said Nyberg. “Our goal is to welcome new people, and also welcome former residents back.”
HOW TO TAKE THE COMMUNITY NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY
The survey is accessible online, via QR code or as a hard copy. Instructions for downloading the PDF and how to submit it can be found at https://www.ihda.org/community-needs-assessment-survey/. There will also be a version of the survey specifically for college students in Jacksonville; it is printed with this article and can be found at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/27d02e875d0343919ad98717fd0d9e31.
Results from the Community Needs Assessment Survey will be presented at future community meetings, dates to be determined.
ILLINOIS HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (IHDA)
In addition to the administration of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), IHDA provides programming for home rehabilitation, rental assistance, down payment assistance, financial literacy, foreclosure prevention, and blight reduction. You can learn more about IHDA at www.ihda.org.
More about the Community Revitalization Program at IHDA can be found at https://www.ihda.org/developers/market-research/community-revitalization/.
CITY OF JACKSONVILLE
Explore the city of Jacksonville’s website at www.jacksonvilleil.gov. Here, you can access specific departments like Community Development, fill out permits, and find city ordinances and the Jacksonville zoning map. The Community Needs Assessment survey will also be on the city website.
JACKSONVILLE REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (JREDC):
The JREDC is your time-saving connection to resources to accelerate your project by providing the facts and figures businesses need: statistical data, general community data, topic-specific information and comparative data. Call 217-479-4627 for specific information on available buildings and sites, financing and incentives, labor market information, tax information, demographics, traffic counts, retail sales data, economic indicators and trends, and zoning information.