CHA Head Addresses Anxieties

April 8, 2008

Download Story
Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lewis Jordan spent most of today assuaging resident fears. A thick document of rules proposed by the federal housing department has many renters concerned. Some of the rules will be implemented and others will not. Hundreds of residents showed up at the South Shore Cultural Center to hear what Jordan had to say.

Jordan told residents that rents will not change and there'll be no public housing term limits. He says too much change too fast in this rough economy is the reason why CHA isn't implementing those decrees.

JORDAN: Anytime we look to make changes of that nature, there's a long communication process. So can I stand here and say that it will never change, no I cant.

The Moving to Work Agreement is a federal program that helps fund local initiatives such as rehabbing properties and providing social service support. It will last until the year 2018 and can be tweaked along the way.

A new 15-hour a week work requirement takes effect this fall. Although there are certain exemptions and a safe harbor program for those who can't find work, residents are still worried about eviction.

Learna Solsberry lives in Lowden Homes and was laid off last year. She says when you work, the rent goes up.

SOLSBERRY: If the rent goes up, I can't save anything to become self-sufficient, especially when we're paying gas and light also.

Another proposed change is eliminating tenant councils at mixed-income developments. CHA officials say they want residents to shed the public housing label and integrate with their new neighbors. Instead, the housing authority is proposing an ombudsman system.

CHA's new head Jordan meets again with residents this evening.

I'm Natalie Moore, Chicago Public Radio.