Longest-serving employee known for promoting good relations among residents retires after 51 years of service to Chicago Housing Authority

October 30, 2017 03:46 PM

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344; msullivan@thecha.org
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646; maguilar@thecha.org

CHICAGO (Oct. 30, 2017): The Chicago Housing Authority hosted a retirement celebration for Homer Gary, who is retiring Wednesday after 51 years of service to the agency.

Gary was present with his wife Yvette and his daughter, Celeste. He started his job at CHA on Oct. 10, 1966. Almost three weeks later, he married his wife on Oct. 29, 1966.

He has been with both ever since.

He started as a Community and Internal Relations Aid in the Tenant Relations department.

“If I could do another 50 at CHA, I probably would,” said Gary, whose official last day is Wednesday. “But let me get out while the timing is good. I’ve enjoyed CHA. I really have. CHA has been very good to me. But there are a few things I want to do before I leave this world.”

During his half-century at CHA, Gary worked in three departments. He leaves as a Relocation Specialist in the Resident Services division. Gary worked at Cabrini-Green in the 1970s, and was recognized regularly by residents and officials for handling difficult resident situations under tense circumstances. He was known for promoting peace and tranquility.

He saw the CHA during its most difficult times, and at its best. But he has seen improvement come at a breakneck pace.

Today, he sees mixed-income communities, where public housing residents live side-by-side with market-rate homeowners. He sees beautiful buildings that blend in with neighborhoods that can’t be identified as public housing. He sees residents graduating from college, obtaining good jobs, buying homes and becoming self-sufficient.

He says he admires CHA for the effort it put into making public housing better.

Gary has seen roughly 15 CEO’s in his 51 years. His favorites? Terry Peterson and current CEO Eugene Jones, Jr.

“I liked their personalities and their personal contact with people,” he said.

Jones, Jr. said:

“Homer is the prototypical CHA employee: dedicated, hard-working, sensible and tough,” Jones, Jr. said. “He is highly respected throughout the agency for his kind, thoughtful demeanor and gentle exterior. We are going to miss Homer. But we’re all just so glad that he is moving on to the next chapter and enjoying life. We wish Homer nothing but the best, and we thank him for his immense contributions to CHA.”

Gary is a native of Phenix City, Alabama, where he graduated from high school. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Alabama State University before joining the Army. He spent almost four years stationed in Germany, where he was a Medical Corpsman, assisting doctors in various emergency operations. He moved to Chicago in August 1964, and his first job was as a social studies and music teacher.

Among his students during his stint as a teacher were two CHA employees, Applications Trainer Ronald Brown and Administrative Services Program Coordinator George Anderson, who was in eighth grade at the time and remembers Homer as “a nice, cool fella.”

After that, Homer went to work for the CTA, then CHA.

Besides his Bachelor’s Degree from Alabama State, Gary earned a Master’s of Science in Management of Public Service from DePaul.

Gary serves as a mentor for many current CHA employees, including his current supervisor, Senior Director of Housing, Relocation and Program Support, Bryce White.

White said he views Homer as a father figure.

“Homer is dedicated, and passionate about helping others achieve their goals,” White said.