The Chicago Housing Authority

About CHA

CHA is the largest owner of rental housing in the city of Chicago, providing homes to more than 50,000 families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods all across the city. CHA has almost 9,400 apartments in buildings designated for seniors and more than 11,500 units of family housing. It also oversees the administration of 36,900 Housing Choice Vouchers that allow low-income families to rent in the private market.

CHA is currently undergoing the Plan for Transformation, the largest and most ambitious redevelopment effort of public housing in the history of the United States. As part of the Plan, CHA will redevelop or rehabilitate its entire stock of public housing.

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

For a list of CHA properties, CLICK HERE >

A Brief History

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.

During the Second World War, CHA housing was built for war-industry workers with several new developments constructed close to industrial centers.  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.

Initially, 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.  It also limited rents that could be charged to 25% of residents' income.  Very quickly, income at public housing developments was not able to support operations and maintenance.  Properties suffered and those who could afford to move out did and were replaced with the lowest-income families. 

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. 

The Plan for Transformation continues to evolve to best meet the needs of CHA leaseholders, their neighborhoods and other stakeholders. For more information on the progress of the Plan, CLICK HERE >.