January 24, 2006

Costello's help saves SIUC $1.3 million

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello had good news for Southern Illinois University officials today (Jan. 24). Agencies in Washington have agreed that $1.27 million the University received to renovate Evergreen Terrace in 1988 is a grant—not a loan.

"I am pleased that we were able to convince HUD that this was indeed a grant," said Costello. "Often in situations such as this it is nearly impossible to convince the agency that it is in error, particularly when the money was provided almost two decades ago. This is one of the most effective roles we play for the university and our constituents, that of advocate and liaison with federal government. It took a diligent effort on all of our parts and we were successful, and that means a substantial savings to SIU and the potential for even more improvements at Evergreen Terrace."

Costello also gave credit to Illinois' U.S. Senators, Richard Durbin and Barack Obama, for joining him in sending a joint letter to HUD last year, explaining the situation and asking for a review of the funding history.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said that the decision by HUD clears the way for the University to pay off the mortgage on the complex. "We were first told by HUD that this money was a HUD loan and must be repaid along with 17 years of interest. HUD was intransigent until we asked Congressman Costello to help," he said.

"Congressman Costello's advocacy has saved SIU more than $1.3 million and made it possible for us to move forward with our plans to upgrade and improve Evergreen Terrace. We are very thankful for his efforts and continued support and for the willingness of HUD to be open to our concerns," Poshard concluded. "We also extend our thanks to Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Barack Obama. Their efforts also made a difference."

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said the decision will help the University as it moves ahead with plans to purchase the buildings in the future. "This is an issue that might have created significant difficulty for us as we looked to continue improving this residential area for students," he said. "Thanks to Congressman Costello, we will be able to move ahead with a variety of improvements in years ahead."

Evergreen Terrace consists of 302 apartments in 39 buildings on the southern rim of the campus at SIU Carbondale. It is home to students with families who are studying on campus and first opened in 1968. By 1988 when the University received the grant that was in question, the complex needed things such as new roofs and other updates.

SIUC hopes to pay off the existing mortgage to clear the way for more improvements at the site. SIUC will now follow up with needed paperwork to close out the issue.

Enhancing campus housing is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.