The Chicago Housing Authority provides homes to more than 50,000 families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout the city. CHA has utilized the flexibility of the Moving To Work agreement to test innovative, locally-designed strategies that use federal dollars to more efficiently help residents become self-sufficient and to increase housing choices for low-income families. As a result, CHA families are more successful than ever before. In 2000, 15% of work-eligible heads-of-household were employed. Now more than 58% are employed. Also, the annual income of employed heads-of-household has doubled to more than $19,000 a year. 

The Chicago Housing Authority is a municipal not-for-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Commissioners consisting of ten members.  The commissioners are appointed by the Mayor. 

For a list of CHA properties, click here.



CHA_PlanForwardEvent_042013_333Under the direction of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CHA has mapped out a plan to fulfill its commitments and revitalize communities under the its bold strategic initiative, Plan Forward: Communities that Work. Plan Forward expands on the foundation laid by the Plan for Transformation, the largest redevelopment/rehabilitation of public housing in the history of the United States that has guided CHA’s work since 2000.

Plan Forward was born from a robust input process with a diverse group of stakeholders, and set forth with goals of developing vibrant communities and ensuring that every housing unit is safe, decent and sustainable. Officially kicked off on April 20, 2013, Mayor Emanuel engaged in a community discussion with residents about their accomplishments and goals. It was the culmination of a stakeholder process that reflected on CHA’s history, including lessons from the Plan for Transformation that identified new ideas, recommendations and opportunities for CHA and its stakeholders moving forward.

With the support of Mayor Emanuel, CHA’s mission is to leverage the power of affordable, decent, safe and stable housing to help communities thrive and low-income families increase their potential for long-term economic success and sustained high quality of life.

The three overarching goals of Plan Forward are:

  • Reimagine the final phase of the Plan for Transformation, coordinating public and private investments to develop vibrant, complete communities.
  • Ensure that CHA’s housing portfolio is safe, decent and sustainable.
  • Expand services to more residents, targeted to their needs, and at critical milestones in their lives.

Plan Forward also considers CHA’s sustainable goals and objectives, such as water conservation and land use initiatives, striving to expend less energy, and achieving green sustainability quotients. For example, the CHA’s Ralph J. Pomeroy Apartments and the Kenmore Senior Apartments are two of only 1,075 buildings worldwide to achieve LEED Platinum status and two of only 32 in Illinois. LEED Platinum status is the highest certification possible for green building design. They achieved the status through the use of geothermal wells, solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, heat recovery systems, green vegetative roofs, high-performance windows and envelope insulation, storm-water control and Energy Star appliances. 

Plan Forward continues to guide CHA as it works to provide quality, safe and affordable housing and build vibrant communities for all Chicagoans. 


CHA was created in 1937 to own and operate housing that was built by the federal government under President Franklin Roosevelt's Public Works Administration.  The first three housing projects, built in the late 1930's, included Jane Addams, Julia C. Lathrop and Trumbull Park Homes.  They were all part of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to provide affordable housing for low-income families and combat blight.DaleyCermak64

During World War II, CHA housing was built for war-industry workers with several new developments. After the war, CHA developments served as transitional housing for returning veterans and low-income residents.  By the late 1950s, CHA had become the largest landlord in Chicago, with more than 40,000 units of housing.

After the 1965 landmark court decision in Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, in which a group of residents alleged that CHA engaged in racial discrimination by building public housing solely in areas with high concentrations of poor minorities, CHA was placed into receivership, which was lifted May 2010.

Hilliard1Initially, public housing operated very similarly to private market housing, using income from rent to cover the costs of maintenance, operations and adequate reserves, although the cost of the land and construction was borne by the federal government.  As the stock of public housing aged across the country, however, the costs to maintain the buildings rose, and rents rose as well. 

By the late 1970s, the spread between market rate rents and public housing rents had diminished to a point where Congress took action.  The Brooke Amendment was passed, which required public housing authorities to only rent to those with very low or no income.  

By the time a rental subsidy program was passed in the early 1980s, the high concentrations of poverty and neglected infrastructure were severe.  By 1996, the operations of the Authority were in such disarray that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took control of the agency.

In 2000, under the leadership of Mayor Richard M. Daley, the City of Chicago agreed to take back control of CHA and drafted the Plan for Transformation, an ambitious plan that called for the demolition of notorious high-rise developments, the comprehensive rehabilitation of all the other scattered-site, senior and lower-density family properties, and the construction of new mixed-income/mixed-finance developments.  The guiding principle behind the Plan is the comprehensive integration of low-income families into the larger physical, social and economic fabric of the city. 

Plan Forward continues to evolve to best meet the needs of CHA residents, their neighborhoods and other stakeholders. 



CHA is one of nearly 40 public housing agencies participating in HUD’s Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Program, which was first authorized by Congress in 1996. The MTW Program gives participating public housing agencies some regulatory and funding flexibility, outlined in an MTW agreement with HUD, to adapt housing assistance programs to local needs. While participation in HUD’s MTW Program allows for certain flexibilities, participation does not result in deregulation of the agency. MTW participation does require direct oversight and approval of MTW activities in addition to many standard applicable regulations and approval processes that non-MTW agencies are also required to follow. As part of the MTW Agreement, agencies must also submit MTW annual plans and reports to HUD, and agencies are required to request approval for and report on the use of MTW flexibilities.

CHA’s original MTW Demonstration Agreement was executed with HUD on February 6, 2000. The Amended and Restated MTW Agreement was executed on June 26, 2008, which extended CHA’s participation through FY2018.

CHA’s Plan Forward initiatives are aligned with the three statutory objectives of the MTW Demonstration Program:

  • Statutory Objective I: Increase housing choices for low-income families.
  • Statutory Objective II: Give incentives to families with children where the head of household is working, seeking work, or is preparing for work by participating in job training, educational programs, or programs that assist people to obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient.
  • Statutory Objective III: Reduce costs and achieve greater cost effectiveness in federal expenditures.

Click here for CHA’s MTW Agreement, Annual Plans and Annual Reports.