WBEZ | Chicago Housing Authority http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-housing-authority Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Housing group wants CHA to slow down Altgeld redevelopment http://www.wbez.org/news/housing-group-wants-cha-slow-down-altgeld-redevelopment-110503 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Altgeld_Gardens.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A social justice nonprofit long involved in desegregating Chicago public housing wants redevelopment on the far South Side to slow down.</p><p>Five hundred units are slated for rehab at Altgeld Gardens, a de-industrialized area with a population that&rsquo;s black and low income. Business and Professional People for Public Interest wants the Chicago Housing Authority to first put in more amenities, such as a community center and an upgraded library.</p><p>&ldquo;Improve the quality of life for the community, for the families that live there now. When you&rsquo;ve done that, make a determination whether it&rsquo;s the right thing or not to bring back 500 units. But CHA&rsquo;s doing it in the reverse order,&rdquo; said Julie Brown, a lawyer with BPI. Motions have been filed in federal court.</p><p>Brown said BPI hasn&rsquo;t asked Judge Marvin Aspen to rule on anything except for the parties to mediate. Aspen is the same judge from the Gautreaux case, a class-action lawsuit BPI filed against CHA to end the segregation of black families in public housing.</p><p>But CHA officials and current Altgeld residents are actually on the same page. Both parties say upgrades to facilities are in the works, and they want more families to move back to a rehabbed Altgeld.</p><p>Resident Cheryl Johnson said BPI is out of touch, and fixing up facilities shouldn&rsquo;t stop CHA from also fixing up apartments.</p><p>&ldquo;As a legal tenant holder I have the right to consultation of what&rsquo;s going to have an impact on my quality of my life. These folks have never lived in public housing,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>CHA officials said work is being done to improve school, transportation and recreational facilities at Altgeld. The housing complex was originally built in 1945. Currently, more than 1,200 units are occupied and CHA is expected to present an implementation strategy to residents in the coming months.</p><p>&ldquo;While CHA cannot speak specifically about the motion, it has worked closely with residents and the larger Altgeld community with respect to the revitalization plan. The preferred design concept was the culmination of more than 25 meetings with residents, community members, sister agencies and organizations, including BPI,&rdquo; a statement read.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter.&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on<a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/housing-group-wants-cha-slow-down-altgeld-redevelopment-110503 New report reveals pervasive discrimination in housing voucher program http://www.wbez.org/news/new-report-reveals-pervasive-discrimination-housing-voucher-program-109946 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/housing-voucher_140331_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Civil Rights Under Law spent two years investigating discrimination in the subsidized housing market and found rampant racial discrimination.</p><p>Subsidized housing vouchers, commonly referred to as Section 8, allow families to rent in the private market. <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fcafha.net%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F02%2FCLCCRUL-CHA-testing-report.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNF013SD2bWvufFKrTbwg1pmiD90Kg">A new report outlines the discrimination</a>.</p><p>To assess fair housing practices, trained investigators posing as potential tenants inquire about availability, terms and conditions to assess compliance. White and black testers, with comparable backgrounds, tried to rent from landlords.</p><p>Landlords already participating in the voucher program discriminated against tenants based on race 33 percent of the time, most commonly by steering them to other buildings or neighborhoods. This also happened based on disabilities 44 percent of the time and against families with children 25 percent of the time.</p><p>Landlords in opportunity areas - places with low poverty - who were not participating in the Chicago Housing Authority&rsquo;s voucher program discriminated against white testers with vouchers 55 percent of the time. In 39 percent of the tests, landlords directly refused to rent to them. And a little more than half of the landlords who told white testers that they accepted vouchers discriminated against African American testers who said they had vouchers. Opportunity areas are an important tool to break up segregation in the housing market; voucher holders tend to be clustered in low-income, segregated black communities.</p><p>&ldquo;Race is still a pressing concern within the city of Chicago and within our region. Even though this happened specifically within Chicago, it&rsquo;s probably not a surprise to any of us that it&rsquo;s probably the reality going even beyond that scope,&rdquo; said Morgan Davis, executive director of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance.</p><p>The study was conducted for the CHA. In a statement, the agency said it takes allegations of fair housing violations very seriously and &ldquo;educates owners, property managers and participants to ensure that federal, state and local fair housing laws are adhered upon. CHA also assists the Chicago Commission on Human Relations in its investigations of potential housing discrimination cases and/or fair housing violations.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a><u>&nbsp;</u>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-report-reveals-pervasive-discrimination-housing-voucher-program-109946 CHA launches pilot program for formerly incarcerated http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-launches-pilot-program-formerly-incarcerated-109932 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cook County Jail Holding Cell_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority is launching a pilot program so people with criminal backgrounds can live with family members in public housing.</p><p>The family reunification program will allow 50 formerly incarcerated individuals to move back into CHA housing over the next three years. Normally, CHA prohibits anyone with a criminal background to live with relatives. This new program will also include residency in the subsidized housing voucher program, known as Section 8.</p><p>Once people leave prison they often have nowhere to go and return to neighborhoods with high crime and poverty.</p><p>Recently, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fback-old-neighborhood-parolees-struggle-fresh-starts-109685&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNF84CwnJ3U0mSOlyQbLwesWEK3lbA">WBEZ analyzed 2012 data from the Illinois Department of Corrections</a>, and found that thousands of adults return to just a handful of Chicago zip codes after they get out of prison. For example, four West Side zip codes &ndash; 60651, 60644, 60624 and 60612 &ndash; had more than 2,400 parolees return in that one year alone. Many of these neighborhoods already have high rates of violence, unemployment and poverty. The large number of parolees living there becomes a collective burden increasingly hard to bear.</p><p>CHA CEO Michael Merchant said the family reunification program is important because it can &ldquo;support these ex-offenders coming out making sure they have stable environments. I think it&rsquo;s a win-win for everybody. The main thing is we want to make sure the ex-offenders don&rsquo;t become re-offenders out in our neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>Those selected must be on a path toward self-sufficiency and rehabilitation. The Safer Foundation, Lutheran Family Services and St. Leonard&rsquo;s House are the service providers that will recommend the 50 people.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a big step for the city of Chicago to partner with people with criminal records...it will help them reintegrate into the communities,&rdquo; said Anthony Lowery, the policy and advocacy director at the Safer Foundation.</p><p>Sex offenders and people convicted of arson, production of methamphetamine in public housing and fraud with federal housing will not be allowed in the program. They are banned by federal policy.</p><p>The CHA board and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must first approve the pilot program.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a><u>.&nbsp;</u>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>&nbsp;and &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 07:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-launches-pilot-program-formerly-incarcerated-109932 Cabrini-Green ready for final phase of redevelopment http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/cabrini-green-ready-final-phase-redevelopment-109609 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CHA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Housing Authority is speeding up construction of the final 65 acres at Cabrini-Green still open for redevelopment.</p><p>Cabrini-Green started its transformation from public to mixed-income housing in 1994 when the federal government awarded a <a href="http://tellingourstory.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/CONSENT-DECREE.pdf" target="_blank">$50 million HOPE VI Grant </a>to facilitate redevelopment of the Cabrini Extension North site. Over the years high- and mid-rise apartments fell to demolition. Two decades later, the once-poor Near North Side neighborhood now teems with luxury condos and new businesses like Starbucks.</p><p>Next week, CHA officials will hold open houses for developers who will learn what parameters the agency has designed for construction of new housing and retail. The land boundaries are North Avenue to Chicago Avenue and Halsted to Orleans.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gathered this approach so that we could be able to work with multiple developers at one time and to have multiple parcels delivered in an expedient fashion,&rdquo; said Sharnette Brown, development manager for CHA.</p><p>Brown said this will give CHA more control of redevelopment.</p><p>Cabrini&rsquo;s revamping was a prelude to CHA&rsquo;s 1999 Plan for Transformation, the $1.6 billion blueprint to build or rehab 25,000 public housing units with mixed-income housing as the centerpiece. That formula is one-third market rate, one-third affordable and one-third public. The plan &ndash; scheduled for 2015 completion &ndash; has run into economic and housing slump roadblocks.</p><p>Last spring CHA unveiled <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cha-reveals-next-phase-massive-public-housing-redevelopment-106757" target="_blank">Plan Forward </a>as a way to wrap up the final stretch. Former CHA CEO Charles Woodyard <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182" target="_blank">resigned last fall amid sexual harassment allegations</a>, but also because City Hall became disenchanted with the slow pace of progress.</p><p>The goal is for Cabrini construction to start by 2015 on the mostly vacant 65 acres. The Cabrini rowhouses will remain but not be 100 percent public housing &ndash; much to the chagrin of many residents. Of the 583 units, 146 have been redeveloped into public housing and will stay that way. The others are empty. Originally, CHA had planned to keep the row houses all public housing.</p><p>&ldquo;We felt that in order for Plan Forward to work, in order to have a very vibrant community and what works for the residents to move toward self sufficiency, it was important to do mixed income. Not to leave that area to be the only secluded area that remained 100 percent public housing,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>Carol Steele is an activist who lives in the row houses, which she said have more bedrooms and can better accommodate families.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re adamant that the row houses be rehabbed to 100 percent public housing like it was supposed to be,&rdquo; Steele said.</p><p>Steele said residents are less concerned about amenities and retail because they have now come to the community, including a recent Target. But they still want more public housing and the opportunity for displaced low-income Cabrini residents to return to the now-flourishing community.</p><p>&ldquo;We have an abundance of stores. We want what was promised,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.</em><em>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/cabrini-green-ready-final-phase-redevelopment-109609 Sisters sue Chicago Housing Authority over drug testing http://www.wbez.org/news/sisters-sue-chicago-housing-authority-over-drug-testing-109466 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cha drug_140106_nm (2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two sisters who live in a Chicago Housing Authority mixed-income development are suing the agency over its practice of suspicionless drug testing.</p><p>DeAnn and Jessica Stubenfield live with their mother in a townhouse in Oakwood Shores off Pershing Road, surrounded by black-and-white photography and their school awards. DeAnn attends Harold Washington College and Jessica is a recent Columbia College graduate.</p><p>Each year, during lease renewal, they are required under CHA rules to take a drug test. Jessica has taken it once, but now refuses.</p><p>&ldquo;I shouldn&rsquo;t have to be violated and have my rights be violated to try to prove to people that I&rsquo;m this clean person,&rdquo; said Jessica Stubenfield, who is 23 years old. Her sister DeAnn is 19.</p><p>The Stubenfields filed a lawsuit in federal court last fall to stop the CHA from testing residents in mixed-income housing projects for drugs. They are also seeking unspecified damages for residents who have been subjected to drug testing.</p><p>&ldquo;I almost backed out [of the lawsuit], but I said, &lsquo;Let me go through with it,&rdquo; DeAnn Stubenfield said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;ll be worth it in the end. It will be better for everybody else, not just for me, not just for my family. I was thinking about the future.&rdquo;</p><p>Over the past decade, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/cha-not-living-promises-mixed-income-housing-102522">mixed-income communities have replaced high-rise public housing</a> buildings around the city. Oakwood Shores is where the Ida B. Wells and Darrow Homes once stood.</p><p>The new developments have public-, affordable-, and market-rate housing renters. All of them are subject to drug testing.</p><p>And that is a concern to advocates. Last August, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed its own <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-sues-chicago-housing-authority-over-drug-testing-policy-108422">lawsuit</a> against CHA on behalf of public housing residents in mixed-income communities who are drug-tested. These cases will have a joint hearing in May.</p><p>CHA is the only public housing agency in the country that tests for drugs, lawyers say. In 2011, ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the number of CHA residents who have tested positive for drugs. Attorneys learned that of approximately 1,600 residents 18 years and older who lived in mixed-income public housing, 51 tested positive over a period of several years.</p><p>But CHA stands by the policy.</p><p>&quot;Through the CHA&#39;s mixed-income program, public housing families reside in new, privately owned and privately operated alongside market-rate and affordable renters. One of the requirements of all the renters is that they follow property rules. And if those rules happen to include drug testing, then public housing families - like their market-rate and affordable renter neighbors - must adhere to those rules,&rdquo; CHA said in a statement.</p><p>A common criticism is that CHA residents do not have the right to complain about drug testing because they live in subsidized housing. The Stubenfields&rsquo; attorney chafes at that logic.</p><p>&ldquo;If people are in favor of this drug testing because the CHA residents receive government funds, you have to look at all the people who receive government funds,&rdquo; said Samantha Liskow, referring to varied groups of people such as college students.</p><p>On Dec. 31 a federal judge struck down a law that required drug testing of all welfare recipients. Liskow said that has an enormous impact on the federal CHA case.</p><p>&ldquo;We believe that will apply in full force here,&rdquo; Liskow said.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 11:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sisters-sue-chicago-housing-authority-over-drug-testing-109466 Former CHA CEO Woodyard resigned amid sexual harassment allegations http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cha_131118_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Charles Woodyard, the former CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority, left the agency amid sexual harassment allegations, WBEZ has learned.</p><p>On Oct. 15, Woodyard abruptly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-housing-authority-ceo-resigns-108927">resigned</a> after two years on the job. At the time CHA released a statement that quoted Woodyard as saying &ldquo;I am pursuing other opportunities that I hope will benefit my family and my career.&rdquo; Woodyard added he wanted to &ldquo;spend more time guiding&rdquo; his teenage son. But on Oct. 14, CHA signed a $99,000 settlement agreement with a former employee. WBEZ obtained the confidential agreement.</p><p>The female employee &ndash; whose name is redacted in records &ndash; alleges that she was a victim of sexual harassment, including physical contact by Woodyard. She alleges that she continues to require medical treatment for physical and emotional distress.</p><p>CHA and Woodyard deny the allegations.</p><p>&quot;The allegations are false. I never sexually harassed anyone,&quot; Woodyard told WBEZ.</p><p>The agreement says that one of the public housing agency&rsquo;s reasons for settling is to avoid the expense and inconvenience of defending itself. The $99,000 includes back wages, attorneys&rsquo; fees and medical treatment for the former employee.</p><p>&ldquo;The board took this allegation seriously, and determined it was in the best interest of the agency to settle it,&rdquo; CHA board chair Z. Scott said in a statement.</p><p>In August, the female employee filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that said &ldquo;during my employment, I was subject to sexual harassment. I complained to Respondent. Subsequently, I was disciplined and discharged. I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my sex, female, and in retaliation for engaging in protected activity.&rdquo; She indicated that the latest discrimination took place in June.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Woodyard in 2011. Lewis Jordan, the previous CEO, was pushed out amid questions surrounding CHA credit card use. Woodyard had run the public housing authority in Charlotte, N.C. and has an extensive real estate background. His resignation from CHA took effect Nov. 1.</p><p>Beyond the sexual harassment allegations, there had also been concerns about how quickly Woodyard was getting things done. CHA is two years from supposedly finishing its massive original $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation, the blueprint for tearing down public housing and replacing some developments with mixed-income communities. CHA revealed Plan Forward, the second phase of the plan, this past spring. It focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab and boosting economic activity around CHA sites.</p><p>The economy and fickle housing market have slowed down progress especially for selling market-rate units. Meanwhile, CHA promised it would rehabilitate or redevelop 25,000 units for public housing families. For fiscal year 2014, CHA plans to deliver 562 public housing units, but none of them will be on mixed-income sites. Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it&rsquo;s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then.</p><p>Michael Merchant, former commissioner of the city Department of Buildings, is the new CEO.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182 Mayor picks new CHA chief http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-picks-new-cha-chief-108942 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1cffc55[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A day after the resignation of the Chicago Housing Authority CEO, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced his new pick.</p><p dir="ltr">Nominee Michael Merchant, a lawyer, has been the commissioner of the city Department of Buildings since 2011. He has served in former mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s administration and Chicago Public Schools in intergovernmental affairs roles. &nbsp;Merchant has also worked for the U.S. Department of Housing &amp; Urban Development.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Mike is the best type of public servant,&rdquo; Emanuel said in a statement. &ldquo;He is selfless and devoted, he is attentive to detail and ambitious in his thinking. I have been impressed with his leadership at the department of buildings and I look forward to working with him as CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority. I believe Mike will do wonderful things in that role and will help many of Chicago&rsquo;s families on their path to economic stability.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CEO Charles Woodyard <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-housing-authority-ceo-resigns-108927">resigned</a> Tuesday without a new job and giving boilerplate language in a statement about wanting to spend more time with his family. CHA had said its board and the mayor&rsquo;s office were preparing a national search for Woodyard&rsquo;s replacement. Woodyard&rsquo;s last day is Nov. 1.</p><p dir="ltr">CHA is two years from supposedly finishing its massive $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation &ndash; the blueprint for tearing down public housing and replacing some developments with mixed-income communities. Emanuel served on the CHA board as the Plan, the largest public works housing initiative in the country, was being written.</p><p dir="ltr">The economy and fickle housing market have slowed down the Plan especially for selling market-rate units. Meanwhile, CHA promised it would rehabilitate or redevelop 25,000 units for public housing families. For fiscal year 2014, CHA plans to deliver 562 public housing units, but none of them will be on mixed-income sites. Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it&rsquo;s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then.</p><p dir="ltr">Merchant will be leading Plan Forward, the second phase of the original plan. It focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab and boosting economic activity around CHA sites. That strategy has been slow.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I look forward to the challenges of this new role,&rdquo; Merchant said in a statement. &ldquo;I believe that we will be able to advance the mission of the Chicago Housing Authority and provide a better future for many of Chicago&rsquo;s most vulnerable residents, and I look forward to working with the mayor and the other leaders in the city to accomplish these goals.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The CHA board of commissioners will meet later this month to consider the candidacy.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>. </em></p></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-picks-new-cha-chief-108942 Chicago Housing Authority CEO resigns http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-housing-authority-ceo-resigns-108927 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Woodyard_0021 head shot.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The head of the Chicago Housing Authority resigned Tuesday without a new job and giving boilerplate language in a statement about wanting to spend more time with his family.</p><p>Charles Woodyard has been CEO of the public housing agency since 2011. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed him after Lewis Jordan, the previous CEO, was pushed out amid questions surrounding CHA credit card use.</p><p>Woodyard had run the public housing authority in Charlotte, N.C. and has an extensive real estate background. &ldquo;He developed programs to encourage the private sector to invest in public housing. That is exactly the type of background I want here for the city of Chicago, to take us to stage two in the Plan for Transformation,&rdquo; Emanuel said at the press conference appointing Woodyard.</p><p>Woodyard&rsquo;s resignation is effective Nov. 1., and rumors have previously swirled about him stepping down. And over the past month or so, the CHA board of commissioners have been meeting behind closed doors over unnamed personnel matters.</p><p>CHA is two years from supposedly finishing its massive $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation &ndash; the blueprint for tearing down public housing and replacing some developments with mixed-income communities. Emanuel served on the CHA board as the Plan, the largest public works housing initiative in the country, was being written.</p><p>The economy and fickle housing market have slowed down the Plan especially for selling market-rate units. Meanwhile, CHA promised it would rehabilitate or redevelop 25,000 units for public housing families. For fiscal year 2014, CHA plans to deliver 562 public housing units, but none of them will be on mixed-income sites. Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it&rsquo;s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then.</p><p>Woodyard revealed Plan Forward this past spring, the second phase of the original plan. It focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab and boosting economic activity around CHA sites.</p><p>One of Woodyard&rsquo;s goals had been to develop the acres upon acres of idle CHA land for non-housing uses.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than housing. Housing was the foundation,&rdquo; Woodyard said in April. &ldquo;We will work with the private sector and public sector to see if can have job-creating retail. If we can have retail that provides a needed service for our families. We&rsquo;re going to make sure that the investment that the public makes doesn&rsquo;t wither and die on the vine because we haven&rsquo;t completed the community.&rdquo;</p><p>The Shops &amp; Lofts project is underway at 47th and Cottage Grove, which will include a Wal-Mart and housing. The State Street corridor still has tracts of grassy lots.</p><p>But some CHA residents want the next CEO to focus more on housing - despite the direction Emanuel has moved the housing agency.</p><p>&ldquo;I hope it means we have a CEO who&rsquo;s going to come and take care of business like it&rsquo;s supposed to be taken care of. Bringing back our units that they tore down and promised to build back up, providing more public housing for people,&rdquo; said Natalie Saffold, a resident leader from the former LeClaire Courts. The complex is completely demolished and there are no immediate replacement plans.</p><p>Emanuel and CHA board chair Z. Scott will initiate a national search for Woodyard&rsquo;s successor. CHA released a statement saying: &ldquo;Plan Forward remains fully operational and CHA remains committed to the initiative&rsquo;s vision of coordinating public and private investments to develop strong, vibrant communities as well as to help strengthen economic independence for CHA residents along their road to self-sufficiency.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>. </em></p></p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 15:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-housing-authority-ceo-resigns-108927 CHA slows down on mixed-income housing http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-slows-down-mixed-income-housing-108699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cha 13 09 17.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority plans to deliver 562 public housing units in fiscal year 2014, but none of them will be on mixed-income sites.</p><p>In 1999, as part of the mammoth $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation, the CHA promised to rehabilitate or redevelop 25,000 units for public housing families. The notorious high rises came down and mixed-income housing became the agency&rsquo;s showpiece. Residents were promised the right to return to their old neighborhoods if they met qualifications.</p><p>The apartments for 2014 include artist housing and real estate acquisition in neighborhoods throughout the city as a way to deconcentrate segregation and subsidize vouchers.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It really represents, I think, a broadening effort to include off-site units as well as continuing our work on the traditional family development sites,&rdquo; said Ellen Sahli, chief housing officer for CHA.&nbsp;</p><p>Every year, the CHA must send its annual plan, known as Moving to Work, to the federal housing authority. Many public housing residents and activists question what CHA&rsquo;s outlined in the document. The public comment period ends Sept. 27.</p><p>&ldquo;The main issue is that the housing authority is not making significant progress on providing the replacement units that they promised. They&rsquo;re committed to producing 25,000 replacement units, theoretically, by 2015. At the rate they&rsquo;re going, they&rsquo;re going to have to request an extension to the plan for transformation until at least 2020,&rdquo; said Leah Levinger, of the Chicago Housing Initiative.</p><p>Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it&rsquo;s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then.</p><p>When asked repeatedly about the timeline, Sahli fell back on boilerplate language about the CHA &ldquo;continuing to work to aggressively deliver units.&rdquo; She would not address whether an extension would be required, or if the CHA could produce by 2015.</p><p>In April, the CHA unveiled &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/cha-reveals-next-phase-massive-public-housing-redevelopment-106757" target="_blank">Plan Forward</a>,&rdquo; nicknamed Plan for Transformation 2.0, which focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab, boosting economic activity around CHA sites and providing job/educational training for people with subsidized housing vouchers in the city.</p><p>In 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the CHA could use project-based vouchers toward its 25,000 housing goal. Project-based vouchers is a rental assistance for eligible families to live in specific housing developments or units. Often, the landlord has a contract for a property than can go up to 30 years.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re hoping the housing authority will report on the terms,&rdquo; Levinger said. &ldquo;This is not permanent affordability. It&rsquo;s not even necessarily long-term affordability. The challenge for us is if we&rsquo;re talking about a sustainable affordable housing system in Chicago, physical replacement units is what gets us to long-term affordability.&rdquo;</p><p>Dearborn Homes, Trumbull and Lowden are among South Side properties that have been rehabbed. Levinger said if that model, instead of demolition and privatization was pursued, more families could have affordable housing.</p><p>&ldquo;The issue is that they refuse to consider rehabilitation in North Side communities where we&rsquo;re talking about housing developments on prime real estate,&rdquo; Levinger said, referring to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-announces-plans-redevelop-lathrop-homes-108097">Lathrop Homes</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/activists-call-city-stop-public-housing-demolitions-102869">Cabrini rowhouses</a>.</p><p>Public housing resident activist Francine Washington said the CHA needs to consider more development besides retail on its empty tracts of land near mixed-income properties. The economic downturn has slowed down mixed-income activity and changed some for-sale housing into rentals.</p><p>&ldquo;When you move into these new communities, the reason why they&rsquo;re renting is no one is buying and there&rsquo;s nowhere for our kids to go. You tell them they can&rsquo;t hang in front of the door, they&rsquo;re loitering. The apartments are sanctuaries inside, concrete reservations outside. Kids need somewhere to go instead of standing outside and the police can accost,&rdquo; Washington said.</p><p>Washington said community centers need to be on the table.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><p><strong>Total Planned FY2014 Unit Delivery 562</strong><br />Dorchester Artist Housing <strong>12</strong><br />Shops and Lofts<strong> 28</strong><br />N/A Public Housing Acquisition Real Estate Acquisition Program<strong> 220</strong><br />N/A Project-Based Vouchers Property Rental Assistance Program <strong>302</strong></p><p><strong>FY2014 Public Housing Leasing</strong><br />CHA Portfolio Total Units<br />Family<strong> 4,646</strong><br />Scattered Site<strong> 8,113</strong><br />Senior<strong> 2,596</strong><br />Mixed-Income/PII<strong> 2,639</strong><br />Total <strong>17,994</strong><br /><em>Source: Chicago Housing Authority</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Sep 2013 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-slows-down-mixed-income-housing-108699 For subsidized renters, CHA inspections may be first hint of foreclosure http://www.wbez.org/news/subsidized-renters-cha-inspections-may-be-first-hint-foreclosure-108632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/vouchers_130909_nm(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When Johneece Cobb collected the mail not long ago at her home in Auburn Gresham, one piece of mail stuck out.</p><p>&ldquo;A letter came in a manila envelope and it said Citibank on it. It was [the landlord&rsquo;s]. I put it in the pile,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>That night Cobb couldn&rsquo;t sleep. She had a nagging feeling that something was wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;Something just kept telling me, look at that envelope. Look at that envelope. I got up at 3 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, walked downstairs got that envelope and I opened it and it was the court papers for the foreclosure,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>This was all news to Cobb. Her landlord never told her. Cobb pays her rent via a subsidized voucher program commonly known as Section 8.</p><p>&ldquo;I have COPD. I&rsquo;m an oxygen patient. And I&rsquo;m disabled. And at this point, I cannot afford to live if it wasn&rsquo;t for Section 8,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But in this case there wasn&rsquo;t much she could do. It turns out the foreclosure process was underway before she even moved in. Cobb was forced to move out of the home on 84th and Sangamon.</p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority administers the federally subsidized housing choice voucher program &mdash; its largest portfolio of low-income renters. Cobb said CHA swiftly helped her relocate after she alerted officials. But she was in a precarious spot.</p><p>As the foreclosure dragged on, the landlord stopped the upkeep of the property but kept collecting a check from CHA. A month before she moved out, CHA inspected the property and gave it a failing grade.</p><p>That inspection report could&rsquo;ve been the first clue that the property was in trouble.</p><p>According to a <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2013/09/subsidized-housing-voucher-renters-cope-foreclosures" target="_blank">data analysis by <em>The Chicago Reporter</em></a> there&rsquo;s a strong correlation between failed CHA inspections and foreclosures. Beginning in January of last year nearly 1,550 properties occupied by voucher-holders have been named in a foreclosure filing.</p><p>Since 2008, banks have taken over more than 2,400 properties that were inspected within a year of the foreclosure sale. Inspection data from the Chicago Housing Authority suggests that many of the properties were on the slide in the year before the banks took them back.</p><p>Yet many landlords were still receiving subsidies from CHA.</p><p>&ldquo;Where there&rsquo;s smoke there&rsquo;s fire,&rdquo; said Elizabeth Rosenthal, an attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation, which helps voucher holders who get caught up in the system. &ldquo;You can guess that if there&rsquo;s a landlord that&rsquo;s completely stopped taking care of a building, there&rsquo;s a good chance that there&rsquo;s a foreclosure coming down the pike.&rdquo;</p><p>Rosenthal said CHA is responsive to residents, but she wishes there was a more formal policy on the books.</p><p>&ldquo;We do get a fair number of cases where the tenant calls us because they&rsquo;ve been notified that their building is in foreclosure or sometimes they don&rsquo;t even know their building is in foreclosure. They figure it out because they get a notice from the gas company,&rdquo; Rosenthal said.</p><p>And when that happens often their next phone call is to Tamiko Holt, a voucher holder who advocates on behalf of tenants to CHA. She, too, was forced to move out of a unit more than a decade ago after her landlord went through foreclosure.</p><p>Now she helps renters like Johneece Cobb fight for their security deposits once they move out. It&rsquo;s more than an inconvenience. Hundreds of dollars or more can be a lot for a low-income family.</p><p>&ldquo;We have no protection as far as security deposits. It&rsquo;s like a roll of the dice. Is this landlord or owner going to give your security deposit back or not?&rdquo; Holt said, adding that she wants CHA to do more homework before tenants are placed.</p><p>&ldquo;If they did that, then tenants wouldn&rsquo;t be faced with, &lsquo;oh I&rsquo;ve only been here three or four months, now I&rsquo;ve got to go&rsquo; because this property was going into foreclosure.&rdquo;</p><p>According to CHA&rsquo;s Chief Housing Officer Ellen Sahli, CHA is, in fact, doing more to prevent that from happening. Still, she said when foreclosure notices are sent out they don&rsquo;t go to CHA.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things that we are looking at and working with our partners on is how we can get those type of supports to us as well,&rdquo; Sahli said.</p><p>But when pressed for details Sahli said &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t at this time give a timeline on it. I think these are all issues that are important to us and we&rsquo;re working hard to figure out what the right strategy is.&rdquo;</p><p>Since the foreclosure crisis hit, there have been new state and local laws to help renters. But tenants don&rsquo;t always know when a bank is stepping in.</p><p>On a recent afternoon at Nikki Johnson&rsquo;s airy, three-bedroom South Shore apartment, the television is on a cartoon channel and the toddlers are sleeping. Johnson runs an in-home daycare.</p><p>Her building is in foreclosure. But she didn&rsquo;t know until I knocked on her door.</p><p>And Johnson was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;If I do have to move, I want enough time where I could be able to be settled and find something that I can afford. I don&rsquo;t want just to jump out there again in the wind. I&rsquo;m hoping if I do have to move, the program will assist me as far as helping me find another landlord who will take the program,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>Johnson&rsquo;s landlord, who didn&rsquo;t want to be identified, said he got swallowed by new bank policies that wouldn&rsquo;t renew his loan. That, coupled with the falling value of the property, led to foreclosure.</p><p>Unlike a lot of landlords, he said he will continue to cut the grass and pay the bills.</p><p>He may not be paying the mortgage &mdash; but he&rsquo;s still getting money from CHA.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><p><em>Angela Caputo of The Chicago Reporter crunched and analyzed the data for this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/subsidized-renters-cha-inspections-may-be-first-hint-foreclosure-108632