The chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority board is stepping down.
John Hooker has served on the public housing agency board since 2015, appointed by former mayor Rahm Emanuel. His resignation is effective Friday.
Hooker made the announcement at Tuesday’s public board meeting. Hooker is a retired executive vice president at ComEd. Generally speaking, residents liked Hooker and said they felt heard. During public board meetings, Hooker used humor, respect and firmness. Even George Blakemore, a political gadfly who shows up at various government public hearings with scathing critiques, shook Hooker’s hand at his final board meeting.
At that same Tuesday meeting, one speaker said Hooker was being pushed out by political forces. But Hooker said that’s not true. He said Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t ask him to resign. His four-year appointment ended earlier this month. Hooker said he initially wanted to stay for only one to two years.
Now, he said he wants to truly enjoy retirement.
In a statement, Lightfoot praised Hooker’s service, but the mayor has not said with whom she plans to replace him. Board Vice Chairman Craig Chico will serve as chair until a replacement is named.
Hooker joined the board around the same time Eugene Jones, Jr. started as CHA CEO. During Hooker’s tenure, many residents applauded his efforts to expand contracting opportunities under the Section 3 program, which calls for hiring public housing residents and helping them grow their own businesses.