Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday announced her pick to run the Chicago Housing Authority — a public housing veteran who has worked in Minneapolis and Atlanta.
Lightfoot has nominated Tracey Scott as the new CEO of CHA. Scott has served as interim executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority since 2019. Prior to that, she was the agency’s deputy executive director. Previously, Scott led the Section 8 voucher program for the Atlanta Housing Authority.
Both agencies are much smaller than CHA.
Last September, Eugene Jones abruptly left as head of CHA to lead the Atlanta agency.
In a statement, Lightfoot said “Tracey’s breadth of experience and dedication for improving public housing make her a perfect fit to lead the Chicago Housing Authority as we embark on our ambitious agenda to transform our city’s economic landscape.”
Lightfoot’s nomination of Scott will go before the CHA board of commissioners at its March 17 meeting.
“The CHA Board of Commissioners is impressed with Tracey’s extensive work to improve public housing,” said CHA Board Chair Angela Hurlock.
James Bebley has been acting CEO and is expected to stay on as chief operating officer.
Earlier in the day, Lightfoot celebrated the reopening of a renovated landmark building, The Mark Twain, which is one of the largest remaining single-room occupancy (SRO) affordable housing developments on Chicago’s Near North Side.
The Mark Twain sits in the shadow of the former Cabrini-Green public housing development and the luxurious Gold Coast. Located at 111 W. Division, the $54.3 million rehab has 148 apartments with private bathrooms and kitchenettes.
“Our goal has to be to keep providing a mix of affordable options in a variety of neighborhoods across the city, not just segregated housing in certain neighborhoods but everywhere,” Lightfoot said. “If we’re going to break the grip of segregation that divides us, we have to make sure we’re creating affordable options everywhere.”
The city’s contribution to the development included $27.3 million in multi-family housing revenue bonds, a $5 million multi-family loan and $1.3 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $12.7 million in equity. The nonprofit NHP Foundation developed The Mark Twain by acquiring the property in 2016 as part of the city’s SRO preservation initiative, city officials said.
Rental assistance for the units comes from project-based housing vouchers issued by the Chicago Housing Authority.
Dante Hamilton moved into The Mark Twain in January. He lived in the neighborhood years ago and remembers how pitiful the building used to look.
“I considered it to be like a ‘New Jack City’ building,” Hamilton said, referring to the Carter, a New York City apartment complex featured in the popular 1991 movie. “[Now,] everything is 100 percent new.”
Hamilton said he loves the neighborhood. A grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants and library are all within walking distance.
“It’s close to everything,” Hamilton said. “It’s right on the Red Line. It’s perfect. You can’t get any better location than this.”