The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is a municipal corporation established by the State of Illinois in 1937. CHA is an administrative body with jurisdiction over all public housing within the City of Chicago. The agency’s mission is guided by a ten member Board of Commissioners appointed by the Chicago’s mayor, and approved by the City Council. The CHA Chief Executive Officer of (CEO), responsible for day to day management, is appointed by the mayor and approved by the CHA Board of Commissioners.
With a budget of nearly one billion dollars, which is completely independent and separate from that of the City of Chicago, CHA is the largest owner of rental housing in Chicago. CHA provides housing to more than 50,000 people. CHA has almost 9,500 senior apartments and more than 7,000 units of family housing. CHA also oversees 35,000 Housing Choice Vouchers which allow low-income families to rent from private landlords.
The CHA Plan for Transformation, initiated by Mayor Richard M. Daley and approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), began in 2000. This was the largest, most ambitious, redevelopment effort of public housing in the United States. The goal was to rehabilitate, renovate, or redevelop all of Chicago’s 25,000 public housing units, under a “Moving To Work Agreement” with HUD.
The Plan for Transformation was promoted as one that would transcend the rebuilding of the physical assets of public housing. CHA also promised to build and strengthen communities by integrating public housing and its leaseholders into the larger social, economic and physical fabric of Chicago. The CHA did not keep that promise.
The Urban Institute studied the effects of the CHA Plan for Transformation. In a report recently released, they indicated that while the majority of CHA residents now live in higher-standard housing, the quality of life for most has not improved. Quality of life improved for those who received intensive social services.
Pursuant to my direction, the CHA would update the database of former CHA residents. After evaluating each client and performing a critical needs assessment, each potential tenant will be assigned a caseworker. That caseworker will prioritize them according to their at-risk status. Thereafter, a team of professional housing experts will design a critical path program, unique to each individual former resident.
The CHA caseworkers will assist former residents in their efforts to find a job, improve their skills, take advantage of educational opportunities, secure decent housing, repair their credit, expunge misdemeanors or seal other criminal records, and address physical and mental health concerns.
The short-term goal is to improve the housing situation of each current and former tenant and assist them in improving their social economical status. The long-term goal is to return two-thirds of the 210,000 former residents to the land once occupied managed and controlled by CHA.