Chicago has a long history with the organizational power of public housing residents, like a 1983 get-out-the-vote effort that helped elect Harold Washington as mayor.
Today, public housing residents remain organized, though they are no longer the primary recipients of the Chicago Housing Authority’s assistance. Instead, the majority of CHA housing recipients are Section 8 voucher holders — residents dispersed in the private rental market.
A report by the Chicago Reader found that if Section 8 tenants were to realize their collective voting power, they could be able to determine the aldermanic races in at least ten wards in Chicago, based on voucher distribution and election data. While public housing residents have an organized and well-resourced body — the Central Advisory Council — to represent them and their concerns to the CHA, voucher holders have no such group.
What’s standing in the way of voucher-holding tenants from organizing? Morning Shift talks to Maya Dukmasova, staff writer for the Chicago Reader, who analyzed and reported on the potential voting power of this residential demographic.