The promise and peril of mixed-income housing

Almost 20 years ago, a wrecking ball leveled a 14-story high-rise at the Henry Horner Homes on the city’s Near West Side. What has happened since then is both amazing and disturbing. Horner, a public housing development, became Westhaven Park, a mixed-income community of market-rate renters, homeowners and former Horner residents. The transformation from Horner to Westhaven was a bold leap to create a better environment for public housing residents who had complained of everything from roaches to gangs to unlit stairwells. In many ways, life is better.

Henry Horner Homes, 1993

Dismantling the towers

Twenty years after the demolition of Henry Horner Homes on the city’s Near West Side, former residents don’t think mixed-income housing is working for them.

CHA wait list exposes Chicago’s affordable housing crisis

More than a quarter of Chicago households–more than 282,000–recently turned to the Chicago Housing Authority in their search for a better or more affordable home. The households are vying for an apartment in public housing or a housing voucher, either of which could be a step up from their current living situations. But the huge response to the four-week registration period for the agency’s wait lists also exposes a glaring need for quality, affordable housing in Chicago. The registration period, which ended Monday, is the first time CHA has opened its public housing wait list since 2010 and its voucher wait list since 2008. The wait lists, for the first time, used a single online application.