CHA offers down payment dollars for mixed-income housing

CHA offers some buyers down payment cash

August 16, 2011

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For the second time in two years, the Chicago Housing Authority is offering thousands of dollars to homebuyers to purchase homes and condos in its mixed-income community developments.

The CHA is offering a pot of $1 million to help homebuyers with down payments or closing costs. The buyers can apply for assistance ranging between $10,000 and $20,000. The money comes from a mix of CHA income and philanthropic dollars.

Mixed-income communities are the centerpiece of CHA’s massive Plan for Transformation, which tears  down public housing to build neighborhoods that have room for both low-income and high-end households. The battered economy has slowed down housing sales. And the plan is several years behind.

Phase one of the mixed-income housing construction has yet to be complete and that’s why CHA is eager to sell the remaining 99 units, said spokeswoman Marilyn Katz.

“In order to either do further market rate, whether it’s rental or for sale or even do more public housing units, we have to get these units done,” Katz said.

The condos and houses are located on the city’s North, West and South Sides and include the CHA community developments of Park Boulevard, Oakwood Shores, West End, Park Side and Lake Park Crescent.

CHA touts its mixed-income communities as affordable while some critics see their inclusion of higher-income buyers as social engineering that comes at the expense of low-income families.

Robert Whitfield is an attorney and longtime advocate for CHA residents.

“I don’t necessarily have a problem with something to create an incentive for homebuyers to try and adjust to this very, very bad housing market. But I do think there needs to be some balance,” Whitfield said. “Some of these [public housing] residents have waited over 10 years for housing. I would like to see both go forward.”

Whitfield said CHA needs to be more aggressive building and rehabbing public housing units.