PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Peoria’s south side received a boost in the city’s continued effort to improve the community.

A $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant was awarded to the Peoria Housing Authority, which hopes to use the funds to redevelop the older Harrison Homes and the surrounding area.

The grant gives the PHA and the city a two-year window in order to work with south-side residents and stakeholders to create a new vision for the area. The target zone is the area between the streets of Proctor, Laramie, Adams, and Western, which has a 42% poverty rate.

Peoria Housing Authority CEO Armeca Crawford believes the community is ripe for revitalization.

“That’s significant, and it’s concentrated, and we have an opportunity to do something amazing with the residents in this community to help with that,” she said.

After the 2-year window, Crawford hopes for the PHA to receive an implementation grant, although she added that those are highly competitive.

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali was in attendance at Thursday morning’s event, where she said that brighter days are ahead for the 61605 zip code.

“The planning process says ‘things are happening here,’ and builds momentum toward a vision of a revitalized neighborhood,” Mayor Ali said.

Crawford emphasized the importance of including south-side residents in the conversation about revitalizing the south side.

One such South Side resident is Daurice Coaster, who had a message for her fellow community members.

“This is not the time to be quiet, this is not the time to be nonchalant, we have needs and finally we have federal dollars to address it,” she said.

In addition to the planning grant, the PHA also received a $1.2 million grant for housing-related hazards and lead-based paint, which Crawford hopes will fix issues for Harrison Homes residents. She also mentioned that this will not be a “gentrification project”, and all current Harrison Homes residents will not be displaced.