The New Year 2017 began as it ended with a flurry of activity to further clarify the operational timeline for the development of a “returning citizens” home in the East St. Louis community. OBK received the full approval of the East St. Louis Planning Commission on October 26, 2016 to build and operate a supervised home program for adult males released from prison and on parole. The approval plan included the security measures and monitoring procedures that would be in place for the returning citizens home residents. This approval was followed by a formal presentation to the East St. Louis City Council on December 8, 2016 that included the Public Works, Finance, Public Safety and Community Development Committees.

On January 6, OBK met with Jabari Conrad (ESL TIF/Finance) and provided a detailed list of criteria for the selection of vacant land and/or an existing building for rehab. The first progress report from Jabari was on January 27 and covered a wide variety of topics to further the OBK and ESL partnership that included special funding districts, economic and county assitance programs that could be available as they continue to catalog a listing of properties owned either by ESL or the County. In a telephone conversation (February 18) Jabari indicated that the vacant property listing is about completed and we are ready to start the criteria review of these listings.

At the January and February OBK Board meetings the 2017 operational timeline was reviewed and a series of Board initiatives were begun that included the annual review of OBK Operational Policies and the OBK Corporations structure. The Board has approved a contract for a grant writer to continue preparation of documents for both Federal and State grants. A series of meeting were also held with the architect regarding the building design criteria that will include in a single structure the Property Unit (resident’s home living area) and the Operating Unit (services provider area). Several contractors have expressed interest in managing the construction, but at this time the criteria review of the options for vacant land and the architects building design are the next critical steps.