CHA misses out on federal grant

Federal money would’ve helped neighborhood around a mixed-income development

December 18, 2012

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(WBEZ/Natalie Moore)
The Oakwood Shores mixed-income development.

The Chicago Housing Authority did not receive a federal grant that would’ve helped improve one of its signature mixed-income neighborhoods.

Oakwood Shores is near 39th and Cottage Grove, where residents and homeowners of various income levels live together. The land used to be a traditional public housing development.

But the surrounding South Side neighborhood still lacks services and retail.

CHA was a finalist to receive up to $30 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fill in the blanks and develop the area.

Chief Executive Officer Charles Woodyard said he’s disappointed the housing agency didn’t receive the money. This will slow down plans, but not table them, he said.

"We believe that if you bring in other amenities, components of neighborhoods that make them healthy and strong, we can preserve the investment that’s already made. We think about long-term sustainability when we do community building now," Woodyard said.

When Woodyard came to Chicago, he said he wanted CHA-owned land to be developed into more than just housing. Woodyard said the agency may reapply for the federal funds.

More than a decade ago CHA began tearing down its stock of notorious high rises. Mixed-income developments are the centerpiece of the public housing's redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for HUD said CHA didn't receive high enough marks. The cities that received the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative money are Seattle, Cincinnati, San Antonio and Tampa. Last year, Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood received a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant.