SwedishAmerican Foundation’s Neighborhood Revitalization Efforts—A Year in Review
The SwedishAmerican Foundation mission is simple: Support the healing mission of SwedishAmerican Hospital and provide programs that improve medical health and economic strength of the Rockford community. In 2015, the foundation has done just that.
Since 2000, the foundation has invested more than $6 million in a unique neighborhood redevelopment project that has restored owner-occupied homes in an 81-block area circling the hospital. The foundation has worked with numerous groups, including Habitat for Humanity, to construct single family homes in the neighborhood.
A 50/50 rehabilitation grant program is one component of the foundation’s local redevelopment efforts. Fourteen local Jackson Oaks residents received more than $43,000 to put back into their homes, and with a 50 percent match, a total of $89,000 has been put into improving the neighborhood. Thanks to the City of Rockford for the funding, the grant has allowed the foundation to assist homeowners residing within the boundaries of the Jackson TIF neighborhood to make exterior home improvements. The grant allowed for a 50 percent reimbursement (up to $7,500 maximum) for each project.
"I was extremely excited to learn about the SwedishAmerican Foundation's 50/50 Grant Program," says Jackson Oaks resident Bessie Martin. "My house was in a desperate need of a brand new roof and an outside make over - a full paint job. There was only one problem, I didn't have the funds to do it right away. My acceptance into the program was a huge blessing and a much needed one. Knowing the Foundation would contribute 50 percent of the cost was great and it shortened the time it would have taken to have the work done."
Additionally, the foundation provided financial support to SwedishAmerican employees who wished to purchase a home within the neighborhood. In 2015, four homes were available for resale to employees at a discount. The foundation also provided employees $15,000 through the Home Ownership Grant program. Qualified employees who wanted to purchase a home within the 81-block radius surrounding SwedishAmerican were able to apply for the grant. The money allowed SwedishAmerican employees assistance in covering closing costs or used as a down payment. In total, nearly 200 home sites have been impacted in the neighborhood through the foundation’s leadership.
“The foundation and hospital have a shared mission of caring for the community,” says SwedishAmerican Foundation Director Laura Wilkinson. “Our 50/50 grant program and home ownership grant program have helped our local neighbors feel a sense of pride in their homes. Plus, the programs have prompted other neighbors to do smaller projects on their properties. That alone has helped revitalize our neighborhood surrounding SwedishAmerican, making it a better place to live, work and raise families.”
Lastly, in 2015 the foundation helped open the first-ever Strong Neighborhood House. The foundation purchased and renovated the home at 1233 Revell Street and licensed it to the Rockford Police Department (at no cost) back in May. The house serves as a place for officers to build a closer relationship with neighbors, and it’s a space where officers help facilitate problem solving and ultimately reduce neighborhood crime.
For more information on the SwedishAmerican’s efforts to revitalize the Rockford community, please visit www.swedishamericanfoundation.org or call (779) 696-2496.
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