Office of Communications - - Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan 312-786-3344 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor, CHA leadership celebrate youth achievements
Housing opportunities seen as critical to their success
CHICAGO (May 21, 2016) - Addressing a crowd gathered at a breakfast to honor the achievements of young people, Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., commended two CHA scholarship recipients for their accomplishments and announced that a recent decision by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to extend the agency's Moving To Work (MTW) status for another 10 years will allow thousands more to also have new opportunities.
At Dr. Mildred Harris' annual Chicago Faith-Based Community Breakfast at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, Mr. Jones focused his remarks on CHA and the City's commitment to creating new opportunities that build better lives and stronger, healthier communities
"There are two things common to all the young people who we honor here today - the CHA's college students and those who have found new opportunities and have the wisdom to take advantage of those opportunities," he said. "It's my goal, the goal of Dr. Harris and our Board to make certain every CHA family and every voucher holder has the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families."
In his remarks, Jones said that, while not visible or understood by most people, Chicago's MTW status is essential to guaranteeing the opportunities CHA is striving to provide.
"With the flexibility afforded us as an MTW agency, we have been able not only to, as required by HUD, tear down the isolating high-rises of the past, but more importantly, replace them with mixed-income developments that not only provide quality housing options but are anchoring the redevelopment of communities that had seen no investment for more than 50 years," said Jones. "Whether it is at Parkside or Roosevelt Square, Oakwood Shores or West Haven, you'll find CHA residents involved in the construction of new buildings, thriving in mixed-income communities, and not only shopping at but also working at the new commercial centers that have arisen. That is opportunity."
Jones went on to say that it is the CHA's intention to use every program in its disposal to provide opportunity throughout Chicago.
"Little more than a decade ago the CHA had only about 30,000 Housing Choice Vouchers to work with and most of those were concentrated in a few south and west side communities.
"Today, we not only have Housing Choice Vouchers accepted in every one of the city's 77 communities, we also, thanks to our MTW status, have the ability to use those vouchers to provide greater opportunities to our city's most vulnerable population," Jones said. "In the past year alone we've been able to allocate 450 vouchers (over 3 years) for homeless veterans - who've served our country and wondered whether they'd ever again know the opportunity they fought for overseas.
"Similarly we've been able to allocate 190 special vouchers for those with physical disabilities who needed special - sometimes more costly- housing due to their physical limitations. And when the state cut off funding, our flexibility gave us the ability to provide 325 additional vouchers to the 200 we already issue for those with chronic mental illness to make certain they did not end up homeless."
In addition to the 40,000 people on the HCV waitlist, Jones says CHA is working with HUD, the City, housing advocates and other partners to increase housing opportunities for low-income residents and the most vulnerable populations. CHA is working collaboratively to help provide:
100 sponsor-based vouchers to be used for transition aged, homeless individuals and 50 homeless families served through the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS).
218 tenant based vouchers for households on the public housing waitlist as of 12/2014 who have school aged children under the age of 13 who agree to participate in a mobility counseling demonstration program
100 tenant based vouchers in 2015 and 2016 for participants of CHA's "Moving On Pilot" program who are moving from permanent supportive housing and no longer require services in order to free-up needed supportive housing.
"This is what opportunity looks like," Jones said.
Jones said that the MTW status assured that every young person, every family involved with CHA could be guaranteed, through CHA housing, Mixed Income Development Housing, joint-ventures with others - that they would have opportunity.
But he said while the opportunities are there - the choice was theirs.
"Those here today have made good choices - have used the opportunities available to you well. Every CHA resident, every Housing Choice Voucher holder has unprecedented opportunities - for education, for job counseling, for financial aid, for social services - and in the end, what you make of those opportunities is up to you."
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created the MTW program so agencies like the CHA can flexibly use funds and resources to create better opportunities for low-income residents - particularly those who need more than housing to become self-sufficient, including veterans, the homeless, the disabled and others with special needs.
"Providing safe and supportive housing to residents is CHA's priority, but our outreach and vision are larger than that," said CHA Board Chairman John Hooker. "Stronger communities and stable futures come from comprehensive and localized strategies, and thanks to HUD's recognition of our success and their confidence in our strategy, the CHA can continue to be a central part of meeting our city's housing and community development needs."
The CHA is one of 39 agencies granted MTW status by HUD. Although there is constant HUD oversight, the designation allows the CHA to use its federal dollars flexibly to ensure the agency's goals of creating housing - through building, acquisition, co-investment and vouchers that provide the greatest opportunity for those in need.
CHA was first invited to participate in HUD's MTW Program in 2000, and in April 2016, HUD extended CHA's MTW agreement through 2028 because of the Agency's demonstrated ability to creatively meet the needs of Chicago's unique neighborhoods. Through CHA's Housing Choice Voucher and Administrative Plan and Admissions & Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) the Agency is able to design and implement creative demonstration programs and special initiatives that expand mobility, work to end homelessness, support homeless veterans, and prioritize the needs of the disabled.
All demonstration programs are first approved by the CHA's Board of Commissioners, and then proceed to a public comment period to ensure the concerns of all housing advocates are heard and the most important community needs are met. For demonstration programs and special initiatives, eligible applicants are selected from the HCV waiting list and if there are no eligible applicants, partner agencies and organizations can recommend other eligible CHA residents which connect individuals with unique and time sensitive needs more quickly to stable housing and supportive services.
CHA currently serves 46,000 Chicago families through its HCV program and provides housing in mixed income, family and senior housing for 18,000 families and individuals.