CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., speaks at City Club of Chicago
Office of Communications -- Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan 312-786-3344 firstname.lastname@example.org
CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., speaks at City Club of Chicago
Highlights Successes of the Past Year, Details How Agency is Creating Opportunity for Residents while Improving Communities
CHICAGO (June, 13, 2016) - During a speech at the City Club of Chicago, Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) CEO Eugene “Gene” Jones, Jr. today outlined how the nation’s second largest public housing agency is creating opportunities for residents and changing Chicago’s neighborhoods through holistic development strategies that were set in motion over a decade ago.
“By breaking new ground and through trial and error, over the last 16 years, CHA has strived to create new models of housing that provide individuals and families with the opportunity to live in communities that provide the education, jobs, recreation and social networks they seek,” Jones said.
“At the same time, CHA has created innovative partnerships and financing strategies that are helping to expand affordable housing opportunities across Chicago. Since my arrival at CHA in the spring of 2015, CHA has focused on accelerating development deals and expediting the pace of capital construction and development spending to put CHA back on track to reach critical development milestones.”
CHA’s work has been made possible thanks to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, Jones said. “The mayor has charged me with a responsibility to bring more housing to every neighborhood and to ensure that Chicagoans can find the housing they need in the neighborhoods they call home.”
CHA’s commitment to this effort has led to significant progress. Last year the CHA invested more than $170 million in capital construction and development projects with more than 500 units under construction throughout the city - a 26 percent increase in spending compared to 2014.
Over the next two years CHA is on pace to support the construction, rehabilitation and co-investment of 1,000 units of housing and several projects are currently under way including; the rehab of Presbyterian Homes, which will add 111 apartments to the City’s affordable housing stock; the complete rehab of 218 units at Altgeld Gardens; and the development plans currently moving forward at Roosevelt Square, Cabrini-Green, Harold Ickes Homes and Lathrop Homes.
“With these accomplishments, I am confident that we are moving forward in the right direction and with solid ground under our feet,” Jones said.
The CHA today looks much different than it did in the year 2000 when it forged an historic agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to rehabilitate or replace 25,000 units of public housing.
In 2000, HUD designated the CHA as a Moving to Work (MTW) agency, and this year HUD extended that agreement for another ten years. This designation allows the CHA to use funds flexibly for the development of public housing in mixed-income communities, housing renovation, Housing Choice Vouchers and social services that expand opportunities for individuals and communities alike.
To date, the CHA has delivered 90% of the 25,000 homes and apartments envisioned under the initial plan and is the second largest housing authority in the U.S. serving 64,000 families in public housing and through the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The cornerstone of Chicago’s plan was the demolition of condemned housing units and their replacement with mixed-income housing developments that have stimulated unprecedented economic development and renewal throughout the communities they anchor. In all, 80 uninhabitable buildings have been torn down and replaced thanks to partnerships with the City of Chicago, developers and non-profit partners. In all, approximately $570 million of CHA federal funds have leveraged an additional $1.67 billion to support housing in mixed-income developments across the city.
Jones noted that CHA has also leveraged its resources to develop community assets that help contribute to the vibrancy of the mixed-income communities, including the new Mariano’s in Bronzeville and the expansive Arts and Recreation Center in Ellis Park -- both set to open later this summer.
“We are expanding opportunity, and focusing our collective efforts on communities which had seen no investment for generations,” Jones said.
He pointed to the retail and commercial districts that have been built along South State Street and West Division Street, development that was in part built by, serves and employs CHA families. Jones underscored the importance of partnerships with developers, elected officials and community stakeholders in CHA’s efforts to create these opportunities.
As an example, Jones cited Casa Querétaro, the CHA’s first development in the vibrant Pilsen community which provides 45 units of mixed-income housing and was created in partnership with non-profit developer The Resurrection Project.
In 2015, the CHA also leased an additional 5,625 Housing Choice Vouchers to expand access to affordable housing, which increased the total vouchers provided to rent-burdened low-income families to 46,000 – a significant increase from 1999 when nearly 30,000 vouchers were provided.
Vouchers are now accepted in all 77 Chicago communities, and the CHA has continued to expand special programs that meet the unique and time sensitive needs of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents. This includes the addition of 450 vouchers to the 1,000 already provided to homeless veterans and the 325 vouchers provided to those with chronic mental illness.
Jones further noted that affordable housing is just a part of the comprehensive solutions the CHA is pursuing to achieve long-term success. It is programs like Choose to Own, which helps residents become homeowners, and the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program which provides job training, educational opportunities and long-term financial planning, that amplify the stabilizing impact affordable housing has on families. In 2015 FSS program participants earned more than $1.8 million in escrow savings and in 2016, CHA is on track to have its 500th Choose to Own homebuyer.
“Our strategies are working,” Jones said. “We’ve changed the model for what public housing is and should be by learning from the past and setting precedents for the future. We are a model for the rest of the country with a bright future ahead of us.”