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.

TCR Talks: Defending housing as a human right

Antonio Gutierrez wasn’t planning to be a housing activist. In 2012, he graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in architecture, but his status as an undocumented immigrant prevented him from working. He started organizing with immigrant groups, volunteering for two years with the Immigrant Youth Justice League and Organized Communities Against Deportations. Earlier this year, Gutierrez had a choice to make when he received a work permit. He could either follow his original dream of becoming an architect or continue with the organizing work he loved.

Not just Gary: Vacant houses plague some Chicago neighborhoods, too

After suspected serial killer Darren Vann led police in Gary, Ind., to the bodies of six women that had been hidden in vacant houses, many journalists called attention to the problem of urban blight, which has hit Gary particularly hard. City officials estimate that there are 8,000 vacant houses in Gary, about one out of every five houses in the city sitting empty. Ten Chicago neighborhoods have vacancy rates higher than Gary’s. In Riverdale, home of the dilapidated Altgeld Gardens and Phillip Murray housing projects and many abandoned factories and warehouses, 45 percent of houses are vacant, according to the 2010 Census. Six other neighborhoods in Chicago have vacancy rates at or above 25 percent: Fuller Park, Washington Park, Woodlawn and Englewood on the South Side, and North Lawndale and East Garfield Park on the West Side.

Protesters rally to save Logan Square SRO

“Logan Square for all,” a crowd of 100 protesters chanted. “Logan Square para todos!” The chants were among the demands shouted during a rally and candlelight vigil organized as part of an effort to keep open The Milshire Hotel, a single-room occupancy residence in Logan Square.

Julia C. Lathrop Homes

Aldermen demand local oversight, transparency for CHA

Thirteen aldermen have introduced an ordinance to increase oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority as pressure mounts over continuing revelations of the agency’s hoarding of resources and failure to provide housing. Meanwhile, evidence of the need for local oversight mounts. HUD has put a hold on the proposed swap of CHA land at the former site of the Harold Ickes Homes for an athletic field for Jones College Prep because CHA did not consult with residents on the disposition of the land. At a news conference Wednesday, council members expressed outrage that in an era of budget constraints at every level of government, the CHA has accumulated a cash surplus of $432 million and failed to distribute tens of thousands of housing vouchers, while leaving thousands of units unleased and slowing construction of new housing to a virtual standstill. “How dare they!” thundered Ald.

The cost of disinvestment in Chicago’s West Side

It’s too early to predict the impact of Amara Eniya’s mayoral candidacy. The 30-year-old municipal consultant seems to have generated enthusiasm among some young activists. Progressive political pros I talk with don’t give her much chance. But in a recent talk with Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, Eniya raises a crucial point — something no one else has brought up. It’s a subject she also raised when I called her a few months ago, before she had announced her intention to run; someone had suggested talking with her when I was asking around about progressive revenue ideas.