The Chicago Housing Initiative and supporting Aldermen are introducing the Keeping the Promise Ordinance to Chicago’s City Council today. The Ordinance will create oversight and accountability for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) by requiring the CHA to report to the Council on a quarterly basis; to replace each demolished unit with another unit on a one-for-one basis as a qualification for accessing city funding for new units; to freeze sales of CHA land until a reasonable Replacement Housing Plan has been created to maintain a net-zero loss of housing; to use all federal funds for housing vouchers by circulating an additional 3,000 vouchers a year until 97 percent of all available funds are utilized; by increasing (or implementing) mobility counseling for applicants during their housing search process to ensure equal access to all neighborhoods.
According to the Initiative, which is a coalition of eight community organizations throughout the city that work together to promote tenants’ rights and low-income equality, the CHA’s FY2012 financial report (the latest public record of CHA finances) reveals an agency surplus of more than $432 million. The Initiative’s website explains:
“To put that in perspective, CHA’s cash stockpile is larger than the whole City of Chicago’s budget deficit for 2014.”
Clearly, action is needed. Nineteen Aldermen have pledged their support, including development-loving Ald. Cappleman (46). This widespread support underscores the enormity of the CHA’s financial and bureaucratic chaos. Without massive change and political support, the CHA will mismanage itself out of business, leaving thousands upon thousands of Chicago residents without a decent home.